California’s Proposed Gun Control Law — Could It Spread Across the Country?

Courtesy of KCET.org
Courtesy of KCET.org

On November 8, California voters will vote on a controversial gun-control ballot initiative proposed by Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom known as Proposition 63, or the “Safety for All Initiative.”

This proposed legislation follows a series of gun-control measures signed into law in July by California Governor Jerry Brown. Newson says Prop 63 will close “all kinds of loopholes.” It will also further restrict the rights of law-abiding gun owners.

One loophole that makes sense to close is the one created in 2014 by Prop 47 that made stealing anything valued at less than $950 a misdemeanor, including guns. Prop 63 would make the theft of any gun a felony, regardless of value. It goes further, prohibiting any person convicted of stealing a firearm from ever possessing a firearm again. Federal law already prevents possession of firearms by convicted felons.

Prop 63 also requires a person to report the theft of a firearm to law enforcement within five days or be subject to a fine.

But then things get dicey, as the measure goes further in implementing restrictions on gun ownership.

  • Background Checks Prop 63 broadly restricts ammunition sales by requiring instant background checks and requiring, by January 2018, all sales “be conducted or processed through a licensed ammunition vendor,” according to Section 8 of the text. Law enforcement would be exempted.
  • Purchasing Ammo Prop 63 would require individuals who wish to purchase ammunition to first obtain a four-year permit from the California Department of Justice. Dealers would be required to check this permit before selling ammunition.
  • Out-of-State Ammo Purchases The July 2016 legislation prohibits most California residents from purchasing ammunition outside the state and bringing it into the state without first having it delivered to a licensed dealer. Prop 63 would move up the start date of that law from July 2019 to January 2018. It would also make bringing out-of-state ammunition into the state without first delivering it to a dealer an infraction. Any ammo purchased online would have to be delivered to and picked up from a licensed dealer in the state.
  • Banning Large Capacity Magazines California banned large-capacity magazines for most individuals in 2000. Individuals who had large-capacity magazines before 2000 were allowed to keep them. Prop 63 would remove the ownership exemption for pre-2000 owners of large-capacity magazines. Individuals who do not comply with the measure would be charged with an infraction.
  • Gun Confiscation Prop 63 would enact a court process of gun confiscation from individuals prohibited from possessing firearms. Courts would be required to inform those individuals that they must turn their firearms over to local law enforcement, sell their firearms to a licensed dealer, or give their firearms to a dealer for storage. Probation officers would check and report on what prohibited individuals did with their firearms.

What Prop 63 will not do is prevent criminals from acquiring ammunition, high-capacity magazines, or firearms illegally. These new measures will only affect law-abiding citizens with additional burdens and further erode the Second Amendment.

Recent polls indicate an overwhelming majority of voters support the measure following a campaign stressing the need to keep guns out of the hands of terrorists and criminals. However, many in law enforcement have voiced their opposition, recognizing Prop 63 will not keep said terrorists and criminals from accessing firearms and ammunition.

In California, when voters approve a measure it can only be changed by the voters, or by a two-thirds vote of the legislature. In other words, it’s tough to change.

Other states are surely watching the outcome of the vote in November. If Prop 63 passes overwhelmingly – as predicted – other states may attempt to initiate similar measures of their own.

We must all be vigilant in our protection of the Second Amendment and our gun rights, and in preventing the spread of this “anti-gun virus.”

To read the complete text of the proposed law, click here.

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