A Look at California Gun Laws, Among the Toughest in the Nation
California, where a gunman killed 12 people in a bar in Thousand Oaks on Wednesday night, has some of the strictest gun laws in the country. It was the first state to ban assault weapons in 1989 after a shooting at a Stockton elementary school left five students dead. In the wake of several recent mass shootings — including one in February in Parkland, Fla., where a gunman killed 17 students and employees at a high school — state legislators put forward at least nine new gun control bills in response. Here’s a look at the state of gun regulations in California:
• Raised the age for buying rifles and shotguns from 18 to 21.
• Imposed lifetime bans on gun ownership for those convicted of domestic violence or involuntarily hospitalized for mental illness twice in a year.
• Strengthened a law prohibiting multiburst trigger devices, including bump stocks.
• Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed two other measures. One would have prohibited the purchase of more than one long gun a month. The other would have allowed teachers and employers to petition the courts to have guns confiscated from people who are a danger to themselves and others.
• All firearm and ammunition dealers must obtain a state license. Private gun sales must be completed through a licensed firearms dealer, requiring a background check and mandatory waiting period. The state maintains permanent records of firearm sales.
• In 2016, Governor Brown signed a law expanding the prohibition on assault weapons and regulating the sale of ammunition. With few exceptions, the possession, manufacture, transfer, sale, or lending of assault weapons is prohibited within the state. The state can issue permits for the possession of assault rifles to certain law enforcement agencies or other approved individuals.
• Firearms purchasers must pass a written test to obtain a Firearm Safety Certificate, and are limited to buying one handgun per month. There is a 10-day waiting period between applying to purchase a firearm and delivery.
• Concealed firearms may be carried in public with a permit, but local law enforcement can deny permits. Concealed weapons permits are issued only after a background check; applicants must be of good moral character, have a good cause for requesting the license, complete a firearms safety course and meet a residency requirement.
• In 2014, California passed what is commonly known as the red flag law, which allows family members or the police to request a gun violence restraining order temporarily prohibiting a person from purchasing or possessing firearms and ammunition. More than a dozen other states are considering similar measures.
• In 2016, voters passed Proposition 63, a comprehensive package that requires a point-of-sale background check for ammunition purchases and bans large-capacity magazines.
Regulations That May Be Relevant
• According to the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office, the gunman in the shooting in Thousand Oaks was visited by law enforcement officers in April. He was evaluated by mental health professionals, who determined that he did not meet the standard for an emergency commitment. It is not clear yet whether anyone considered a gun violence restraining order in this case.
• Initial police reports suggest the gunman used a large-capacity magazine. The sale of these magazines has been prohibited in the state for several years and Prop 63 banned their possession. The law, passed in 2016, was supposed to go into effect on July 1, 2017, but the gun lobby challenged it. A court enjoined the law, so possession of these magazines is not yet illegal.
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