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California lawmakers pass unprecedented package of gun control bills

California Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles), from left, Assemblyman Kevin McCarty (D-Sacramento) and Assemblyman Miguel Santiago (D-Los Angeles) shake hands after a measure to restrict the sale of ammunition was approved by the Assembly. (Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press)
California Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles), from left, Assemblyman Kevin McCarty (D-Sacramento) and Assemblyman Miguel Santiago (D-Los Angeles) shake hands after a measure to restrict the sale of ammunition was approved by the Assembly. (Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press)

Spurred by outrage over recent mass shootings, California lawmakers on Thursday sent Gov. Jerry Brown a sweeping package of gun control bills, including a ban on the sale of semi-automatic rifles with detachable magazines, background checks for those buying ammunition and new restrictions on homemade firearms.

The flood of bills was introduced in response to the December terrorist attack in San Bernardino that killed 14 people at a holiday party, but momentum for action swelled after the June 12 mass shooting at an Orlando, Fla., nightclub that killed 49 people.

“The killer sprayed that nightclub with bullets,” Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles) said during the floor debate Thursday. “How could someone filled with so much hate have such easy access to ammunition?”

Among the bills the Senate sent the governor was a measure from De León that would require ammunition buyers to show an ID and have their name checked against a list of felons and others prohibited from having firearms.

Most Republicans voted against that bill and others. Republican Sen. Jim Nielsen of Gerber said the measures would hinder citizens who obey the laws and would be ignored by criminals.

“Gun violence is not committed by law-abiding citizens, it is committed by criminals,” Nielsen said during the floor debate. 

The measures were expedited to the governor’s desk Thursday in hopes that he might act on them immediately. 

Legislators hope to convince Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom to drop an initiative that has qualified for the November ballot that contains many of the same provisions in the gun bills approved Thursday. Newsom has indicated he has no plans to drop his ballot measure by Thursday's deadline, saying his proposal goes further in controlling firearms.

California already has some of the toughest gun control laws in the nation, including a ban on assault rifles, but lawmakers said the new bills were meant to plug loopholes exploited by gun manufacturers and owners.

The bills sent to the governor include: 

Ammunition sales: Requires an ID and background check to purchase ammunition and creates a new state database of ammunition owners

Large ammunition clips: Bans possession of ammunition magazines that hold more than 10 bullets.

Bullet buttons: Two proposals would strengthen California’s assault weapon law by outlawing a small buttonhole used for quickly swapping out ammunition magazines

Limit on gun loans: A new restriction on loaning guns without background checks.

Stolen gun reporting: Stolen or lost guns would have to reported within five days.

False gun reporting: A new punishment for falsely reporting guns as stolen

Ghost guns: Homemade “ghost guns” would need to be registered and there would be new limits on selling them

Long gun limits: Only one rifle or shotgun could be purchased per month

Gun research: Urges Congress to lift the prohibition against publicly funded scientific research on the causes of gun violence and its effects on public health

Gun restraining orders: Bans a person subject to a “gun violence restraining order” from having any firearms or ammunition while the order  is in effect

Gun theft: Clarifies that theft of a firearm is grand theft and is punishable as a felony

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