Calif. lawmaker promises action on gun control
Ryan Summerlin December 17, 2012
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) – A California lawmaker said Monday that he will introduce gun control legislation aimed at strengthening the state’s restrictions in the wake of the mass shooting at an elementary school in Connecticut.
Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco, said he is considering broader changes to state law on everything from the background checks required to purchase weapons to storage regulations.
Yee, who is a child psychologist, said he hopes the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., which killed 20 young children, will lead to greater support for closing what he called loopholes in existing state law.
“We must reinstate the federal assault weapon ban and close the bullet button loophole that has severely weakened California’s assault weapon ban,” Yee said in a statement.
The so-called bullet button loophole allows gun manufacturers to sell weapons in California with magazines that can be removed and replaced quickly using a simple tool known as a “bullet button.” The buttons get around the state’s ban on detachable magazines that can be used to swiftly reload a rifle or shotgun.
Yee said he also is examining changes including requiring more background checks, mental health evaluations, limits on the amount of ammunition that can be purchased and additional requirements that would demand gun owners to safely store their weapons.
“Our response to Friday’s massacre and other senseless acts of gun violence throughout America must be comprehensive and address mental well-being, societal problems, and common sense gun control,” he said.
Friday’s attacks left 28 people dead, with the shooter and his mother among the eight adults killed, police say. Police say the gunman, Adam Lanza, was carrying an arsenal of ammunition and used a high-powered rifle similar to the military’s M-16.
In California, Yee attempted to pass legislation earlier this year in the wake of the movie theater shooting in Aurora, Colo., but that legislation died in the state Assembly. Yee’s effort also came late in the legislative session and before the November elections, in which Democrats secured a two-thirds majority in both houses for the first time in decades.
“We’ve always lost some Democrats on gun control bills,” said Yee’s spokesman, Adam Keigwin. “Now we can afford to still lose some Democrats and still hopefully pass it.”
Attorney General Kamala Harris, a Democrat, backed Yee’s earlier legislation. Her office did not immediately return a call seeking comment on Monday. Groups such as the California Nurses Association and the California Medical Association also have supported stricter gun controls.
U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., said Sunday that she will introduce legislation next year to ban new assault weapons, as well as big clips, drums and strips of more than 10 bullets.
“It can be done,” Feinstein told NBC’s “Meet the Press” of reinstating the ban despite deep opposition by the powerful National Rifle Association and similar groups.
At a Sunday night service in Newtown, President Barack Obama did not specifically address gun control. But he vowed, “In the coming weeks I’ll use whatever power this office holds to engage my fellow citizens, from law enforcement to mental health professionals to parents and educators in an effort aimed at preventing more tragedies like this.”