Back in 2016, California gun owners had a name for a sweeping anti-gun ballot initiative pushed by then-Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom: “Gunmaggedon.” Today, Newsom unveiled its sequel, signing more than a dozen gun control bills into law Friday afternoon. “Gunmaggedon II” imposes new restrictions on firearm purchase, dramatically expands the state’s “red flag” law, bans gun shows from taking place at a state-owned facility, and more.
“This continues California’s leadership in terms of gun safety,” Newsom said at a state Capitol bill signing ceremony.
The measure restricting purchases, SB 61, prohibiting Californians from buying more than one semiautomatic rifle per month was one of three gun bills by state Sen.Anthony Portantino (D–La Cañada Flintridge). It also bans the sale of semiautomatic centerfire rifles to people under the age of 21, removing a provision of the law that allowed younger people to buy such weapons guns if they have a hunting license.
The state’s “red flag” law, meanwhile, will now allow almost anyone to petition courts to take away someone’s firearms.
The law currently allows law enforcement and family members of troubled individuals to ask the courts to issue a “gun-violence restraining order” that takes away their firearms, but the measure signed Friday by Newsom adds teachers, school administrators, employers and co-workers to the list of those who may petition the courts to remove guns.
Assemblyman Phil Ting (D-San Francisco) authored the bill after school officials said they had raised concerns about the behavior of the Parkland shooting suspect before he allegedly went on a rampage in February 2018.
“Thoughts and prayers are no longer enough,” Ting said Friday. “With school and workplace shootings on the rise, it’s common sense to give the people we see every day the power to intervene and prevent tragedies.”
Another measure signed by Newsom expands the length of time that the gun violence restraining orders remain in effect from one to five years, which as NRA-ILA recently pointed out, means someone could be deprived of their right to keep and bear arms for half a decade without ever being adjudicated mentally ill or convicted of a criminal offense.
Newsom also signed AB 893, which bans gun shows from taking place at the state-owned Del Mar Fairgrounds and will almost certainly prompt a legal challenge by 2nd Amendment groups in the state. Another measure, AB 1297, eliminates the cap on fees that counties can charge for processing concealed carry applications, which gives anti-carry sheriffs another tool to discriminate against those who want to carry a firearm for self-defense.
One other bill that’s going to cause huge problems for gun owners is AB 879, which requires all “precursor parts” sold in the state be sold through a licensed “precursor parts dealer”, which in turn means background checks (and fees) on every purchase of a “precursor part”, be it a trigger, a barrel, or an 80% lower. Basically anything other than an a finished firearm, frame, or finished receiver. This is modeled after California’s new ammunition background check law, which has had thousands of false denials and delays since it went into effect earlier this year. And just like California’s ammunition background check law, which makes it illegal for California residents to bring ammunition purchased out of state back home, this bill creates a new misdemeanor offense for anyone who brings “a firearm precursor part into the state without first having the part delivered to a licensed firearm precursor part vendor.”
Many of these new laws are going to be challenged in court, and I suspect many of them will have a difficult time, just like the state’s magazine ban, which was blocked from taking effect by a federal judge. Still, it’s always better to be able to win these battles in the statehouse instead of the courtroom. As I read about these new laws in California, I can’t help but think about the upcoming elections in Virginia, where I live. We could see California-style gun control laws imposed almost immediately depending on the results on November 5th. California has an anti-gun legislative supermajority at the moment, which means the best and only real recourse for gun owners in the state is in the court system. If you’re a gun owner in a state that doesn’t currently have California-style gun control laws that treat a right as if it’s a privilege, I strongly encourage you to get involved now to help keep it that way.