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California Legislature

Lawmaker wants to limit Californians to buying no more than one gun a month

A cache of seized weapons displayed at a news conference in Phoenix. (Matt York / Associated Press)
A cache of seized weapons displayed at a news conference in Phoenix. (Matt York / Associated Press)

Alarmed by the amount of gun violence and the activity of straw firearms purchasers, one state lawmaker has revived a proposal to prohibit Californians from buying more than one gun a month.

Sen. Anthony Portantino (D-La Cañada-Flintridge) said his measure would close a loophole by including long guns in a monthly buying limit that currently only applies to handguns.

He noted that of the 26,682 guns used in crimes that were entered into the California Department of Justice's Automated Firearms Systems database in one recent year, 11,500 were long guns.

Portantino said there is no reason why someone would need to buy more than one long gun each month.

“This is not the Wild West,” he said. “California’s in the 21st century, and you shouldn’t be able to walk into a gun store and come out with an arsenal.”

One reason for the bill is concern about straw purchasers who legally buy guns in bulk and then illegally sell them on the black market, often to criminals who are not eligible to buy guns.

About half of the guns seized by state Department of Justice agents from people ineligible to own them are long guns, he said.

He cited data from the Department of Justice that found one person bought 177 long guns in two transactions within a one-month period in 2014.

Sales to single individuals ranging from five to 54 long guns per month occurred on 1,787 occasions, totaling 12,090 guns during the year-and-a-half period ending June 30, 2015.

“[The bill] is basically just saying, ‘People, be reasonable, take a timeout.’ We should not have such a proliferation of weapons out in main street California,” Portantino said.

However, opponents of the bill, including Sam Paredes, say it will do nothing to reduce crime because those intent on breaking the law will still sell guns on the black market.

“This does not prevent straw purchasers from breaking the law,” said Paredes, executive director of Gun Owners of California, a political action committee. “They are only passing laws that affect law-abiding citizens. This doesn’t affect criminals.”

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