California Governor Vetoes Gun Control Measure Passed in Wake of Sandy Hook

October 12th, 2013

Some Second Amendment updates from the Sunshine (Update: No, Golden) State.

Gov. Jerry Brown on Friday signed 11 gun control bills including a ban on the use of lead bullets by hunters, but vetoed seven measures restricting firearms that were introduced in response to the massacre last year at a Connecticut elementary school.

Brown rejected a proposal to ban the sale of semiautomatic rifles with detachable magazines, and bills that would have expanded the list of crimes that would bar the offender from firearms possession. He signed bills requiring more safety training for gun owners and better tracking of guns that are lost or stolen. …

The one bill singled out for a possible lawsuit by the National Rifle Assn. had been passed would have banned the future manufacture, importation and sale of semiautomatic rifles with detachable magazines, and require those who already own such guns to register them.

Brown said California already has some of the strictest gun control laws in the nation, including an assault weapons ban. The ban on rifles with detachable magazines goes too far, he said in a veto message, because it would outlaw the sale of guns used by hunters and marksmen.

“I don’t believe that this bill’s blanket ban on semiautomatic rifles would reduce criminal activity or enhance public safety enough to warrant this infringement on gun owners’ rights,” Brown said.

From the Governor’s veto message of Senate Bill 374:

While the author’s intent is to strengthen these restrictions, the bill goes much farther by banning any semi-automatic rifle with a detachable magazine. This ban covers low-capacity rifles that are commonly used for hunting, firearms training and marksmanship practice, as well as some historical and collectible firearms. Moreover hundreds of thousands of current gun owners would have to register their rifles as assault weapons and would be banned from selling or transferring them in the future.

I don’t believe that this bill’s blanket ban on semiautomatic rifles would reduce criminal activity or enhance public safety enough to warrant this infringement on gun owners’ rights.

The Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg , who championed SB 374, specifically referenced Sandy Hook:

“Since the horrendous mass shooting in Newtown, Connecticut last December, more than 1,100 Californians have been killed by continuing gun violence. I’m very disappointed that with the veto of SB 374, we have missed the opportunity to curb that violence and save more lives.

“In his veto message, the Governor said he believes this measure to ban semi-automatic rifles with detachable magazines goes too far. Certainly, there is no doubt that this measure was crafted to take aggressive action. I did so because I believe aggressive action is precisely what’s needed to reduce the carnage in our communities, and to counter the equally aggressive action by the gun industry which is intent on exploiting loopholes in our existing ban on assault weapons.

“While I’m certainly disappointed with the Governor’s decision, I know he gave thoughtful consideration to balancing the issues raised in SB 374. We can agree to disagree, and will continue to work collaboratively for the benefit of all Californians.”

The governor did sign a bill that would ban lead in hunting ammunition.

The measure, signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown, phases out lead bullets and shot by July 2019, with regulations due by July 2015.

“Lead poses a danger to wildlife. This danger has been known for a long time,” Brown wrote in a signing message, noting that a leading conservation wrote about lead poisoning in 1984. The federal government banned lead ammunition from waterfowl hunting in 1991.

The measure expands an earlier ban on lead hunting ammunition in California condor habitat. The new law covers all wildlife, including “game mammals, game birds, nongame birds and nongame mammals” such as coyotes.

“The risks to California’s incredibly diverse wildlife are many,” Brown wrote. “We must manage our state’s wildlife for the use and enjoyment of all Californians. It is time to begin this transition and provide hunters with ammunition that will allow them to continue the conservation heritage of California.”