California already boasts some of the toughest gun-control measures in the nation: assault weapon and high-capacity magazine bans in addition to mandatory 10-day waiting periods, gun purchasing limits and background checks at gun shows.
But as states such as New York, Colorado and Connecticut have reacted to the December 2012 Newtown shootings by passing firearms limits rivaling California’s, Democrats in Sacramento are pushing to tighten Golden State gun restrictions even more.
One of the more controversial bills introduced this year is Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner’s AB 48, which would require every dealer selling ammunition in California to register with the state and create a database of ammunition purchases. The Assembly’s Public Safety Committee approved the measure Tuesday morning.
“When you want to buy a gun, you have to buy it from a licensed dealer,” the Contra Costa County Democrat argued before the vote. “You show ID, the record of the sale is kept. And you’re checked against a database so if you happen to be in the category of prohibited persons, you’re prevented from buying a gun.”
Skinner said the next logical step is to create a database for ammunition. “You would not be prevented from buying bullets. … There’s no waiting period. You can successfully buy the bullets. But if you happen to be on [the Department of Justice’s database of people prohibited from buying firearms], then local law enforcement or DOJ can intervene.”
The measure would also bar the sale of equipment designed to alter guns so they can hold more than 10 ammunition rounds, and automatically alert police when a person purchases more than 3,000 rounds of ammunition within a five-day window.
Rather than opposing the bill’s data-collection aspects, the Gun Owners of California and other firearms rights groups honed in on the measure’s technical language when they testified against the legislation.
Pointing out wording barring the “transferring” or “furnishing” of ammunition without a license, Gun Owners of California Executive Director Sam Paredes warned that AB 48 would make it illegal for a parent to hand a bullet to his or her child at a firing range. “The Boy Scouts wouldn’t be able to have hunter safety instruction or shooting merit badges,” he said. “No organization would be able to transfer firearms ammunition to a user, so they could legally use it.”
Skinner said she’s happy to change the legislation’s language, but voiced skepticism the technical changes would lead the Gun Owners of California, National Rifle Association or similar groups to back her bill.