Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill Friday raising the age to buy rifles and shotguns in California to 21 as he acted on a host of proposed gun laws inspired by the Parkland, Florida, high school shooting massacre.
California currently bans handgun sales to people younger than 21, but other firearms including rifles and shotguns can be bought at age 18.
Under Senate Bill 1100 by Senator Anthony J. Portantino, D-La Cañada Flintridge, all firearm buyers must be at least age 21.
Portantino introduced his bill after a 19-year-old expelled student bought a military-style semiautomatic rifle and later allegedly marched into Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Valentine’s Day and fatally shot 14 students, a teacher, coach and the athletic director. Authorities charged Nikolas Cruz with 17 counts of murder.
The massacre inspired nationwide student walkouts and demonstrations by gun-control advocates calling for tighter restrictions on firearms.
“As a dad and senator, I am very grateful to Governor Brown for his leadership in signing this important bill,” Portantino said in a statement Friday. “I was determined to help California respond appropriately to the tragic events our country has recently faced on high school campuses.”
Craig DeLuz, spokesman for the Firearms Policy Coalition, a gun-rights group, said Friday that “Governor Brown just told millions of people under 21 that they can fight and die for our state and country with machine guns, but they can’t buy a gun for self-defense in their homes. That’s nuts.”
California already had some of the nation’s most restrictive laws. But that didn’t stop lawmakers in Sacramento from introducing more.
Brown also signed bills Friday that imposed a lifetime gun ownership ban for people repeatedly found mentally dangerous or convicted of domestic violence, and expanded people’s power to disarm gun owners considered dangerous through a court order.
But the governor vetoed other bills that would have banned gun shows at the Cow Palace in Daly City and limited the number of rifle and shotguns that could be legally purchased in a month.
The Firearms Policy Coalition said that the “gun control machine was on overdrive this year” and they were fortunate to get the vetoes they did.
“We’re disappointed that Governor Brown chose to further expand California’s already-insane gun control laws that infringe on fundamental, individual rights,” said Richard Thomson, the coalition’s grassroots director. “We’re grateful that so many people stepped up and helped us get vetoes on some of these bills.”
Assembly Bill 1968 by Assemblyman Evan Low, D-Campbell, imposes a lifetime gun ownership ban on a person who has been taken into custody as a danger to him or herself or others — known in police parlance as a “5150 hold” — twice in one year. Under existing law, such a person is barred from owning a firearm for five years after being released.
Those subject to such bans could still petition a court for a hearing to remove the restriction, as under current law, but the bill prohibits mental health institution personnel from filling the petition form out for them.
Low said his bill “tightens our laws to keep firearms out of the hands of people who may be suicidal or violent,” and that by signing it, “the Governor will save lives.”
Assembly Bill 3129 by Assemblywoman Blanca Rubio, D-Baldwin Park, prohibits a person convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence from ever possessing a firearm. Existing law imposed a lifetime gun ban only on people convicted of felony domestic violence. Those convicted of certain misdemeanor domestic violence charges could be barred from gun ownership for 10 years.
Senate Bill 1200 by Sen. Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley, broadens the scope of existing “gun violence restraining order” legislation in 2016 that provides a means to seek a court order to disarm a dangerous person. The bill expands such court orders to include ammunition and the magazines that store and feed the bullets into the weapon.
Another bill the governor signed, Assembly Bill 2526 by Assemblywoman Blanca Rubio, D-Baldwin Park, clarifies that police in the field can get approval for such an order from a judge by phone if the situation warrants.
Assembly Bill 2222 by Assemblyman Bill Quirk, D-Hayward, requires law enforcement agencies to report to the Department of Justice information about each firearm reported lost, stolen, or recovered. It also requires the department to report compliance to the Legislature.
Quirk said the bill “will ensure data on every firearm used in a crime and recovered by any law enforcement agency” is tracked by the justice department to help it “figure out where guns used in crimes are coming from, and stop criminals from possessing them.”
In vetoing the proposed legislative ban on gun shows at the Cow Palace, Brown said both he and his predecessor had vetoed such a bill before and that the venue’s board of directors should decide what shows to host.
Brown said another bill he vetoed that would have “micromanaged” agencies hosting gun buybacks by barring them from offering gift cards to firearm dealers. As for the proposed ban on buying more than one “long gun” — rifles and shotguns — a month, Brown simply said he had vetoed such a bill two years ago “and my views have not changed.”
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