California Won’t be Closing Assault Weapon Loophole Any Time Soon

Thursday, August 16, 2012

In 1989, California became the first state in the nation to identify and ban assault weapons, five years before President Clinton signed similar federal legislation.

The federal law expired in 2004 and a pro-gun campaign led by the National Rifle Association prevented its renewal. Despite nationals spasms of sorrow and regret following tragic explosions of public violence, gun control has been a dead issue for almost a decade.

The latest violent jolts to the national consciousness―the July 20 massacre of 12 people at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, and the killing of six at a Wisconsin Sikh temple three weeks later―weren’t enough to move even California to fortify its gun laws.

A proposal by state Senator Leland Yee, which would have closed a loophole that allows semi-automatic weapons to perform fast ammunition reloads, passed in the Senate but died in the Assembly Appropriations Committee without a floor vote.

A spokesman for the panel denied that the substance of Senate Bill 249 was responsible for its demise. He said there was only a month left in the legislative session and that a bill of this importance required more time to evaluate through the normal committee process.

Federal action is even more moribund. U.S. Senate Majority Leader Dick Durbin said there is zero chance of federal assault rifle legislation passing this session. President Obama and Democrats joined Republican sentiment as expressed by House Speaker John A. Boehner after the Colorado shooting: “The White House has made clear that they are not going to use this horrific event to push for legislation. And I agree.”

–Ken Broder


To Learn More:

California Lawmakers Shelve Bill Restricting Assault Rifles (by Patrick McGreevy, Los Angeles Times)

Leland Yee Bill Targeting Military-Style Guns Dies in Committee (by Jim Sanders, Sacramento Bee)

Yee’s SB 249 “Bullet Button” Ban Looks Dead (by Josh Richman, Bay Area News Group)

Barbara Boxer, Dianne Feinstein Push for Assault Weapons Ban (by Carolyn Lockhead, San Francisco Chronicle)

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