BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    

                                                                    SB 23
                                                                    Page  1

          Date of Hearing:   July 12, 1999

                              Carole Migden, Chairwoman

                     SB 23 (Perata) - As Amended: July 8, 1999 

          Policy Committee:                              Public  
          SafetyVote:  6-2

          Urgency:     No                   State Mandated Local  
          Program:YesReimbursable:          No

           SUMMARY  :

          This bill adds a generic definition of assault weapons to the  
          Roberti-Roos Assault Weapons Control Act of 1989; makes  
          manufacturing, importing, selling, or lending a large-capacity  
          magazine with a capacity to accept more than 10 rounds an  
          alternate felony/misdemeanor with specified exceptions; and  
          makes numerous related changes.  Specifically, this bill:

          1)Makes it an alternate felony/misdemeanor, punishable by 16  
            months, 2, or 3 years in state prison, or one year in county  
            jail, to manufacture, import into California, keep for sale,  
            give away, or lend, any large-capacity magazine, with  
            specified exceptions. Defines large-capacity magazine as an  
            ammunition feeding device with the capacity to accept more  
            than 10 rounds, but excludes a feeding device permanently  
            altered so it cannot accept more than 10 rounds, and any .22  
            caliber tube ammunition feeding device.

          2)Defines assault weapons generically, based upon the following:

             a)   A semiautomatic, centerfire rifle with the capacity to  
               accept a detachable magazine, which has at least one of the  

               i)     A pistol grip that protrudes conspicuously beneath  
                 the action of the weapon.
               ii)       A thumbhole stock.
               iii)      A vertical handgrip.
               iv)       A folding or telescoping stock.
               v)     A grenade launcher or flare launcher.
               vi)       A flash suppressor.


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               vii)      A forward handgrip.

             b)   A semiautomatic, centerfire rifle with a fixed magazine  
               that accepts more than 10 rounds and/or a semiautomatic,  
               centerfire rifle that has an overall length of less than 30  

             c)   A semiautomatic pistol that can use a detachable  
               magazine and has at least one of the following:

               i)     A threaded barrel, capable of accepting a flash  
                 suppressor, forward handgrip, or silencer.
               ii)       A second handgrip.
               iii)      A barrel shroud that allows the bearer to fire  
                 the weapon without burning the hand.
               iv)    The capacity to accept a detachable magazine at some  
                 location outside of the pistol grip.

             d)   A semiautomatic pistol with a fixed magazine that has  
               the capacity to accept more than 10 rounds.

             e)   A semiautomatic shotgun that has both of the following:

               i)     A folding or telescoping stock.
               ii)    A pistol grip that protrudes conspicuously beneath  
                 the action of the weapon, thumbhole stock, or vertical  

             f)   A semiautomatic shotgun with the ability to accept a  
               detachable magazine.

             g)   Any shotgun that has a revolving cylinder.

          3)Applies the existing felony punishment of 4, 6, or 8 years in  
            state prison for the manufacture, import, sale, or loan of any  
            assault weapon, with specified exceptions, to the generic  
            definition of assault weapon established in this bill.

          4)Makes a first-time violation for unlawful possession of an  
            assault weapon an infraction punishable by a fine of up to  
            $500 if the person was found with no more than two guns and  
            the person meets all of the following conditions:

             a)   The person proves the weapon was lawfully possessed  
               prior to the date it was defined as an assault weapon.


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             b)   The person is not found to be in possession of an  
               assault weapon prohibited under the Roberti-Roos Assault  
               Weapons Control Act of 1989.

             c)   The person has not previously been convicted of an  
               assault weapons violation.

             d)   The person was found to be in possession of the  
               weapon(s) within one year of the one-year registration  

          5)Makes a series of conforming changes relating to the  
            commission of offenses while armed with a firearm. 

           FISCAL EFFECT 
          1)By applying existing penalties for possession, manufacture, or  
            sales of assault weapons to an expanded generic definition,  
            and by adding large capacity magazines to the list of  
            prohibited weapons, this bill will create unknown, but  
            potentially significant annual costs for increased state  

          According to the Department of Corrections, existing data is not  
            sufficient to provide an estimate.

          Based, however, on the 16 persons committed to state prison in  
            1997-98 for related assault weapon violations, and related  
            sentence enhancements for an additional 25 persons, and  
            considering the 10-20-life gun-use enhancements that already  
            exist and exceed the enhancements related to this measure,  
            increased state incarceration costs would not likely exceed  
            $500,000 in the next five years.

          2)Significant costs to the Department of Justice (DOJ)  -  
            $900,000 in 1999-2000 and $750,000 in 2000-01 - for public  
            education, fingerprinting, forensics training and data  
            improvements. These costs will likely be fully offset by  
            Dealer Record of Sale fees, though the DOJ notes it cannot  
            predict how many assault weapons will be registered, and  
            therefore cannot estimate revenues. 



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          1)Rationale  .  According to the author, copycat weapons have  
            circumvented the Roberti-Roos Assault Weapons Control Act of  
            1989.  This bill attempts to create a definition that treats  
            owners of identical weapons equally under the law and  
            addresses legal concerns related to the current definitions.  
            "SB 23 takes weapons that are made, then modified, named and  
            re-named off the market.  It fixes the loophole in current law  
            that bans guns by name, not by capability, by providing a  
            generic definition of the weapons."

           2)Current law  contains a list that enumerates by model and  
            manufacturer the weapons deemed assault weapons, and  
            authorizes the Attorney General to file a petition in Superior  
            Court to declare the additional weapons are prohibited because  
            they are essentially identical to weapons on the list of  
            prohibited assault weapons.

           3)Peace Officer Exemptions  .  Current law exempts specified law  
            enforcement agencies from the restrictions regarding assault  
            weapons in the performance of their official duties, and  
            allows the possession of assault weapons by sworn members of  
            these agencies when on duty. This bill expands this exemption  
            to include specified peace officers, whether on or off duty,  
            for law enforcement purposes, and retired peace officers who  
            possess assault weapons transferred to an individual by the  
            agency upon his or her retirement.  Under federal law, peace  
            officers upon leaving their employment are required to  
            transfer their assault weapons and large-capacity ammunition  
            feeding devices to a federal firearms licensee or other  
            qualified officer.

            As noted in the Assembly Public Safety Committee analysis, the  
            exemption in this bill is a departure from existing law as it  
            allows possession and use of assault weapons while an officer  
            is off duty, and does not require authorization from the  
            employing law enforcement agencies.

            Under this bill, sworn members of the DOJ, police departments,  
            sheriff's departments, marshal's office, Youth and Adult  
            Correctional Agency, California Highway Patrol (CHP), district  
            attorney's offices, military or naval forces of California or  
            the United States are permitted to possess and use assault  
            weapons in the discharge of their official duties, whether on  
            or off duty. 


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          4)    Amendments  :

             a)In the Assembly Public Safety Committee July 7 the bill was  
               amended to add Department of Fish and Game wardens, state  
               park rangers, Alcoholic Beverage Control investigators,  
               Consumer Affairs investigators, DMV investigators, and  
               Insurance Fraud Investigators.  Proposed author's  
               amendments would delete all of these entities other than  
               state park rangers and fish and game wardens.

             b)Join this bill to SB 359, Knight, which deals  with reserve  
               peace officers, and passed this committee on consent and is  
               pending concurrence on consent on the Senate floor. 

             c)Strike "vertical handgrip" from the definition of assault  
               weapon in relation to a semiautomatic, centerfire rifle  
               with a detachable magazine, and replaces it with "forward  
               pistol grip."

           Analysis Prepared by  :    Geoff Long / APPR. / (916)319-2081