California lawmakers voted a handful of gun violence prevention bills out of committee on Wednesday, moving them a step closer to final approval in a renewed push to strengthen the state’s gun laws.
The bills, wide in scope, would limit the manufacture of ghost guns, ban gun sales on public properties and cap the number of guns a private citizen is allowed to manufacture. The state’s two public safety committees discussed the bills as members of Congress heard emotional testimony during a major hearing for national gun control legislation.
“Just look at what happened in Philadelphia, Texas, Buffalo New York, Laguna Woods California, the list goes on,” Assemblymember Mike Gipson told the Senate Public Safety Committee. “If we do nothing, these kinds of senseless acts of violence will continue to proliferate in the state of California.”
Gipson’s bill, AB-1621, would address “the proliferation of unserialized ghost guns.” Ghost guns have no identifying serial numbers and are constructed from parts of purchased firearms. Gipson noted that in 2021, law enforcement found 1,921 ghost guns in Los Angeles alone, up from 813 in 2020. The committee unanimously approved the measure and if passed by the Senate and signed by Governor Gavin Newsom, it will go into effect in Jan. 2023. The Governor has already confirmed that he has plans to sign it.
The bill would target the production of ghost guns by regulating the sale of “precursors,” or gun kits and parts used to create them.
“Enough is enough,” Gipson said. “We have to do everything we can to stop the proliferation of ghost guns.”
Wednesday’s hearings came after Newsom called on the legislature to expedite gun violence legislation in the wake of the mass shooting in Uvalde, Texas. Those testifying regularly referenced mass shootings, which are experiencing a nationwide spike.
In the Assembly Public Safety Committee, Sen. David Min presented two bills, one to ban the sale of guns on public properties. Min told committee members that the state should not play a role in promoting gun sales, but he faced strong opposition, including from the California Rifle and Pistol Association’s Roy Griffith.
“This bill is unlawful and unconstitutional,” Griffith said in his testimony. “You cannot regulate what lawful acts can occur on state property in California.”
But Min’s bill passed, as did another focused on ensuring safe gun sales. SB 1384 would focus on training and video surveillance measures to limit straw purchases, or legal gun sales that are funneled into illegal markets.
In testimony supporting the bill, Annette Miller of West Oakland told the committee that she had lost her youngest son to gun violence in 2016 when he was 19.
“Right now there are no federal laws or regulations that require dealers to offer basic training, security or offer safety measures, and while California has taken some action, it hasn’t been enough,” Miller said. “As a result, families like mine, Black and brown families across Oakland are left to pick up the pieces when their loved ones are violently taken from them.”
Other bills discussed on Wednesday include AB 2156, which would lower the manufacturing threshold necessitating a state license from 50 to four firearms per year. The bills head to the full State Senate and Assembly floor.
“Communities like mine are still in disbelief about the gun violence that is manifesting itself,” Min said in the hearing. “We need to draw a line in the sand and say that the state of California has no business being in the sale of guns.”
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