California bill would increase rules on rifles |

California bill would increase rules on rifles

Cathy Bussewitz
Associated Press Writer

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) – Lawmakers in the California Assembly have evoked “Joe the Plumber,” Japanese internment and the late novelist Ayn Rand as they battle over a gun control bill that would extend the same reporting requirements and regulations that govern hand guns to rifles and other long guns.

On Thursday, the measure, AB1810, passed the Assembly on a 43-10 vote. It now moves to the Senate. Assemblyman Mike Feuer, D-Los Angeles, sponsored the bill, saying it would help law enforcement investigate gun crimes. Opponents argue the Legislature is systematically taking away their constitutional rights under the Second Amendment.

“There seems to be an assault again on gun rights,” said Assemblyman Ted Gaines, R-Roseville. “It makes me think about Ayn Rand and (her novel) Atlas Shrugged, and the movement of government to the point where it’s stifling individuals.”

Under current law, records of handgun transfers are kept in a database that law enforcement officers can access to help solve crimes. The bill would require that sales of rifles and shotguns are recorded in the same way.

That irks lawmaker Chuck DeVore, who said government records of Joe Wurzelbacher, the Ohio man hailed as “Joe the Plumber” by Republican John McCain’s presidential campaign, were made public.

Wurzelbacher had questioned President Barack Obama’s tax plan during the 2008 presidential race.

“All his information was out there for the public to see because of improper handling of government databases,” said DeVore, who is running for U.S. Senate. “You can’t tell me that that database is going to be publicly secure from hacking.”

Republicans said that chipping away at the rights of gun owners affects innocent people, and Bill Berryhill, of Stockton, recalled World War II, when Japanese citizens were detained in internment camps. That offended Assemblywoman Mariko Yamada, D-Davis, who said that “episode in American history is wholly unrelated to the bill.”

“I would just really caution all members to please not confuse other events in history,” she said.

Opponents also said that increasing regulation on long guns would do nothing to keep firearms out of the hands of criminals who often obtain them illegally.

Feuer countered that the number of handguns confiscated by law enforcement for crimes was nearly equal to the number of rifles and shotguns taken from criminals.

“Illegal weapons trafficking is a huge issue,” Feuer said. “We should get those guns out of their hands.”

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