The terrorist attack in San Bernardino was the biggest loss of life to terrorism in the United States since 9/11. The attack took place in California, a state with the strictest gun control laws, using firearms which were legally purchased. Naturally the first reaction of the gun control crowd — as is always the case — is to find the nearest microphone and claim [INSERT TRAGIC INCIDENT HERE] is just more proof that we need more and tougher gun control laws. Now, California Attorney General Kamala Harris (heir apparent for Dianne Feinstein’s Senate seat and the nation’s best-looking AG) is leading the charge to, once and for all, ban semi-auto rifles in the Golden State . . .
From the press release Thursday:
Today, Attorney General Kamala D. Harris and Assemblymember David Chiu announced legislation to close the “bullet button” loophole. This loophole enables a firearm owner to use a bullet or other pointed object to quickly detach and replace a weapon’s ammunition magazine, converting a rifle into a semi-automatic assault weapon. An individual can switch magazines on a gun with a bullet button within seconds. This bill would expand the classification of assault weapons to include semi-automatic center fire rifles, which are capable of accepting detachable magazines.
“The devastation wrought by gun violence on innocent victims, children and families in this country is an international embarrassment,” said Attorney General Harris. “This is a common sense solution that closes a dangerous loophole in California’s assault weapons ban. We simply must do everything we can to keep dangerous, high capacity firearms off of our streets and out of our communities.”
Assembly Bill 1663 will broaden the classification of restricted firearms to include dangerous assault weapons that are currently easy to purchase and manufacture. In 1989, passage of the Roberti-Roos Assault Weapons Control Act (the AWCA) made it a felony to manufacture any of the assault weapons listed in the statute. In 1999, the Legislature expanded the AWCA to include more technologically advanced semiautomatic weapons, including firearms with a “fixed magazine” and/or firearms with “the capacity to accept a detachable magazine.” Under current law, manufacturers have been able to create firearms with detachable magazines that evade classification as assault weapons that are prohibited from being possessed, sold, transferred or imported into the state without a permit. “Bullet buttons” require the tip of a bullet or tool to release a magazine and insert a new one. Because a device is needed to eject the magazine, bullet button firearms are not restricted under the AWCA statute.
“We must close the loopholes in our assault weapons ban so that guns like the ones used in San Bernardino, Newtown, and Aurora cannot be bought legally in our state,” said Assemblymember David Chiu (D-San Francisco), who first worked on gun legislation as a United States Senate aide in the mid-1990s. “Detachable magazines cost lives, and it is more important to save lives during future mass shootings than to be able to reload assault weapons in the blink of an eye. I appreciate the sponsorship by Attorney General Harris and look forward to working this year with my colleagues and the Governor’s office on this and other efforts to prevent gun violence.”
The bill can be found here, and while Harris might believe that this is a minor clerical change the reality is that her proposal would ban every semi-automatic rifle in the state of California. The bill would change the definition of a “detachable magazine” to the following:
“Detachable magazine” means an ammunition feeding device that can be removed readily from the firearm without disassembly of the firearm action.
The problem here is that every semi-auto firearm in the history of the world is designed to allow the magazine to be removed without the disassembly of the firearm action. Even the M1 Garand has an “ammunition feeding device that can be readily removed from the firearm without disassembly” in the form of an en bloc clip. Depending on how exactly you read that sentence no firearm designed after 1940 would be safe from the California ban hammer.
The only question is how broadly California will apply this new law (when passed). My guess is that they’re going to use it as a hammer to systematically eliminate every semi-auto rifle in the state. Given that California is already using the handgun roster as an effective tool to ban all new handguns for California residents Look for the state define these terms as broadly as possible to further restrict citizens’ fundamental civil right to keep and bear commonly used firearms.