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Katy Grimes

Gun Control Thrives In California

From the “You Can’t Make This Stuff Up” file, a bill currently in the California Legislature would require BB guns and Airsoft Pellet guns painted bright toy colors so they won’t be mistaken for real guns.


Coloring BB guns (“BB” stands for “ball bullet,”) in bright colors will only give parents and children the impression that they are children’s toys, rather than recreational and target sport guns.

And criminals will start painting their AK 47s hot pink.

Last year, Gov. Jerry Brown signed 11 gun control bills into law and vetoed seven. More gun bills are on the firing line this year — even banning some BB guns.

In January, the California Senate passed the BB gun bill, Senate Bill 199, by state Sen. Kevin de Leon, D-Los Angeles, 23 to 8. In June, the Assembly Public Safety Committee passed the bill, 5 to 2.

SB 199 will require BB and airsoft guns to be painted bright colors to make them “readily identifiable” so law enforcement officers could distinguish them from real firearms.

BB guns are used for a variety of purposes, including competitive use. During shooting competitions, many prefer using BB guns as they are inexpensive and easy to learn and equip. Even soldiers use BB guns for target practice and skill improvement.

Banning the BB 

Attempts to ban BB guns and airsoft rifles have been defeated in the past, even in California… but every defeat just brought a new bill the next year.

However, according to the National Rifle Association, existing federal law preempts this bill, and the others before it.

More than 20 years ago, Congress passed legislation to limit the possibility that any toy guns which look like real guns, might be mistaken for real firearms, by requiring an orange plug affixed to the gun barrel.

Additionally, federal statute prohibits a state from banning BB, paintball, or airsoft pellet guns.

Civilian disarmament

SB 808, a bill to outlaw “Ghost Guns,” will force California gun owners to register any and all future or previously home-built firearms regardless of type. In other words, the Golden State is about to create a whole new class of criminal.

SB 808 requires any person who makes or assembles a firearm to apply for and obtain a unique serial number from the Department of Justice prior to making or assembling a firearm, and within one day of making or assembling the firearm, to engrave or permanently affix the serial number or other mark to the firearm.

Many are concerned that the recently beneficiaries of $24m in state funding under the DOJ’s Armed & Prohibited Persons System will experience mission creep.

Last year SB 140 was passed, by Sen. Mark Leno and Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, which appropriates $24 million to the California Department of Justice to enhance the identification and confiscation of handguns and assault weapons that are in the hands of convicted felons, persons who are determined to be mentally unstable, and others who have criminal backgrounds that prevent them from legally possessing guns.

SB 53, the “Keeping Ammunition Out of the Wrong Hands” bill, proposes to require ammunition purchasers to obtain an annual permit, issued by the Department of Justice. The bill would require ammunition purchases be face-to-face transactions, only through a licensed ammunition vendor. This bill would ban mail order and Internet sales of ammunition.

SB 53, by Sen. Kevin de Leon, D-Los Angeles, would establish four new fees to be paid out of ammunition sales, and ammunition vendors would have to pay an annual fee of $100. Purchasers would have to pay the other three fees, one of which is an uncapped processing fee.

A bill fact sheet says, California has enacted legislation designed to keep guns out of the hands of criminals, but it has done little to prevent criminals, gang members, and the clinically insane from procuring the ammunition that fuels gun violence.

De Leon claims:

 In 2010, the National Rifle Association (NRA) and the California Rifle and Pistol (CRPA) Foundation challenged AB 962 in court. In Parker v. California (2011), the Fresno Superior Court ruled in favor of the plaintiffs, declaring that the 30-year-old statutory definition of “handgun ammunition” was unconstitutionally vague. The case is currently on appeal and will be argued this spring.

As a result of the court-issued injunction applied to AB 962, today any criminal can walk into a Big 5 or Wal-Mart and purchase ammunition, no questions asked. It continues to be easier in California to purchase a pallet of ammunition than a pack of cigarettes or allergy medicine. There is no way to track who is buying and selling bullets and this blind eye approach is putting ammunition in the hands of killers.

However, according to California Association of Federal Firearms Licensees, SB 53 disproportionately hurts low-income and disadvantaged residents by making ammunition much more expensive and harder to acquire.

SB 53 criminalizes the transfer of ammunition between law-abiding family members, friends, and colleagues.

SB 53 would prohibit the sale of constitutionally protected ammunition unless licensed as an ammunition vendor. In order to become an ammunition vendor, a person or business owner must first quality for such license by being in one of six narrow statutorily defined categories.

To understand the thinking behind many of these bills, at a hearing in April 2013, Berkeley Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner said, “bullets are the very thing making guns deadly.” Her AB48, passed last year, prohibits the sale of gun kits to convert conventional firearms into semi-automatic weapons.

AB 48 bans the manufacture, sale or import of any device that enables a gun to fire more than 10 rounds at one time. Apparently guns are bad, but bullets are worse.

Here is the list of gun control laws Gov. Brown vetoed and signed, from his official website October 2013:

Signed gun control bills

SB 683 by Senator Marty Block (D-San Diego) – Firearms: firearm safety certificate.

SB 363 by Senator Roderick D. Wright (D-Los Angeles) – Firearms: criminal storage: unsafe handguns: fees.

SB 127 by Senator Ted Gaines (R-Rocklin) – Firearms: mentally disordered persons.

AB 1131 by Assemblymember Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley) – Firearms.

AB 48 by Assemblymember Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley) – Firearms: large-capacity magazines.

AB 170 by Assemblymember Steven Bradford (D-Gardena) – Assault weapons and .50 BMG rifles.

AB 231 by Assemblymember Philip Y. Ting (D-San Francisco) – Firearms: criminal storage.

AB 500 by Assemblymember Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco) – Firearms.

AB 538 by Assemblymember Richard Pan (D-Sacramento) – Firearms.

AB 539 by Assemblymember Richard Pan (D-Sacramento) – Firearm possession: prohibitions: transfer to licensed dealer.

AB 711 by Assemblymember Anthony Rendon (D-Lakewood) – Hunting: nonlead ammunition. A signing message can be found here.

Vetoed gun control bills:

AB 169 by Assemblymember Roger Dickinson (D-Sacramento) – Unsafe handguns. A veto message can be found here.

AB 180 by Assemblymember Rob Bonta (D-Alameda) – Registration and licensing of firearms: City of Oakland. A veto message can be found here.

SB 299 by Senator Mark DeSaulnier (D-Concord) – Firearms: lost or stolen: reports. A veto message can be found here

SB 374 by Senator Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) – Firearms: assault weapons. A veto message can be found here.

SB 475 by Senator Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) – Agricultural District 1-A: firearm sales at the Cow Palace. A veto message can be found here.

SB 567 by Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara) – Firearms: shotguns. A veto message can be found here.

SB 755 by Senator Lois Wolk (D-Davis) – Firearms: prohibited persons. A veto message can be found here.


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