California Gov. Jerry Brown signed a series of bills Friday morning that placed sweeping restrictions on firearms, following a meeting among state Legislature.
The bills, which will take effect Jan. 1 next year, will require people to get background checks in order to purchase ammunition, ban possession of high-capacity magazines and prevent straw purchasers from being able to sell firearms secondhand. They are some of the most stringent firearm restrictions in the entire country.
“If our Congress cannot take the simplest steps to control dangerous gun use, then the states will have to act,” said California state Sen. Loni Hancock, D-Oakland, who authored a bill, signed by Brown, that placed a ban on the possession of an ammunition magazine that holds more than 10 rounds.
Hancock added that many of the bills faced opposition in the state Assembly — her bill passed with 43 of the 80 votes — showing that gun control issues are still very controversial within the country. She noted, however, that several polls indicate a majority of California residents approve strong gun regulations and the bills were a step in the right direction.
Hancock said she was compelled to author her bill because many of the mass shooting incidents — including those in Orlando, Florida, and San Bernardino, California — involved high-capacity magazines. She added that California cities such as Sunnyvale, Oakland and San Francisco have already enacted a ban on high-capacity magazines.
“They are designed by the military solely to kill as many people as possible in as short a time as possible, and they have no place in a civil society,” Hancock said.
Another bill, authored by Assemblymember Rob Bonta, D-Oakland, and signed by Brown, will prevent a person who intentionally filed a false report about their gun being stolen from possessing a firearm for 10 years.
According to Bonta’s legislative aide Max Mikalonis, the bill is intended to combat the illegal purchasing of guns through a straw purchaser — a person who buys the gun with an intent of selling or giving it to someone else who wishes to avoid a background check. Mikalonis said that many times after selling a gun, a straw purchaser will file a police report that claims the gun was stolen, in order to remove themselves from any legal trouble.
“(The bill) is less focused on the mechanics of the gun itself but the behavior with which guns get on the streets,” Mikalonis said.
According to campus public policy professor Michael O’Hare, as “sensible” as the new legislations are, they will not have a huge effect on gun violence. He added that the restrictions will not stop domestic or gang gun violence, which happen more commonly than mass shootings and affect more people.
Hancock expressed hopes, however, that with the new legislations, California will be able to step out in front of the rest of the country and inspire other states to implement their own state-level gun restrictions.
Haruka Senju is an assistant news editor. Contact him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter at @haruka_senju