Attorney General Kamala D. Harris and Assemblyman David Chiu have introduced new legislation in California that would expand the Assault Weapons Control Act, or AWCA, to block the use of bullet buttons and severely restrict semi-automatic rifle ownership.
The proposed legislation would extend the ban to include all centerfire semi-automatic rifles that are capable of using a detachable magazine, even when the magazines require a tool to remove. Anyone already in possession of rifles with bullet buttons or other locks will have to register their firearms with the state as “assault weapons.” They’re calling it the “bullet button loophole.”
The Attorney General’s office specifically seeks to ban “more technologically-advanced” rifles, arguing that these firearms pose a risk to the public, citing mass shootings.
“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 Chiu (D-San Francisco) in the A.G.’s official press release.
“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,” continued Chiu. “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.”
A bullet button is a mechanical lock that prevent detachable magazines from releasing without a key or other tool—including the tip of a bullet—effectively converting a detachable magazine into a fixed magazine.
Bullet buttons and other similar devices are a popular and cost-effective way for Californians to make their modern rifles compliant with existing state law.
Harris called the ban “common sense” gun control.
“The devastation wrought by gun violence on innocent victims, children and families in this country is an international embarrassment,” said 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.”
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The California-based Firearms Policy Coalition has already issued a statement saying that they will fight the A.G.’s office on the proposed bullet button ban.
“Assembly Bill 1663 is yet another misguided attack on the civil rights of law-abiding Californians,” said Combs, President of Firearms Policy Coalition. “In the wake of a deadly terrorist attack on our soil, fringe San Francisco elitists like Assemblyman Chiu and Attorney General Harris would rather put innocent people in jail than face up to their own failed policies.”
“[The] Firearms Policy Coalition and our members will fiercely oppose A.B. 1664 throughout the legislative process,” added combs. “We’re going to defend the people’s fundamental, individual Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms at all costs.”
Combs argued that the bills are politically motivated, not a safety issue. “Semi-automatic firearms of the types AB 1664 seeks to regulate are used in so few crimes that they barely register on crime statistics,” said Combs. “A.B. 1664 is not a public safety bill, it’s a public control bill.”
It’s true that in California and nation-wide rifles are very rarely used in the commission of a crime. Even the New York Times has argued against “Assault Weapons” bans, pointing out that all rifles combined contributed to an insignificant percent of all gun crimes.
The NRA-ILA has also issued a statement saying, “These bills are detrimental to the Golden State’s law-abiding gun owners, which number in the hundreds of thousands. They would turn legally-owned semi-automatic firearms into what California law defines as an ‘assault weapon.’ These same firearms are used in hunting, competitive shooting and for general legal use throughout the United States.”
In 2013, California Governor Jerry Brown (D) vetoed a similar bill that sought to ban semi-automatic rifles entirely. Brown said that the bill went too far and would not have an effect on crime.