NRA ratchets up arms race at California’s Capitol
Gun association goes after anti-firearms bills
In a mailer sent to GOP and independent voters earlier this month, during the week of August 12, the National Rifle Association says California lawmakers would “steamroll” the rights of gun owners by passing six measures, which include a ban on magazines with more than 10 rounds and requiring background checks for ammunition purchases.
Three of the bills targeted by the NRA are part of a package of seven measures that Senate Democrats say would reduce gun violence.
One of the bills, Senate Bill 374 by Sacramento’s Sen. President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, “expands the failed California gun ban to cover millions of more guns, including all semiautomatic rifles with detachable magazines,” the NRA mailer says.
“True to form, the NRA again resorts to fear mongering rhetoric,” said Rhys Williams, Steinberg’s press secretary. “The NRA lost whatever little credibility it held in California when it opposed a bill that keeps guns out of the hands of convicted felons. With no regard for the safety of our kids and our families, their motive is singular: perpetuating a profitable urban arms-race.”
Steinberg co-authored a previous bill, S.B. 140, opposed by the NRA, increasing funds to confiscate weapons from persons such as felons and the mentally ill who are prohibited from owning guns. S.B. 140 was signed in May by Gov. Jerry Brown.
The 8-and-an-half by 11 inch, folded-in-two mailer targets six bills the group says impinge on gun owners.
“Politicians in Sacramento are debating new restrictions on your Second Amendment rights but they’re not being honest about the real stakes in this debate. They’re not only trying to ban certain rifles but also ban handguns, erode hunting and strip your right of self-defense in the home,” the mailer says.
The first bill cited by the NRA—S.B. 108 by Sen. Leland Yee, a San Francisco Democrat—would require that “guns be locked away regardless of whether anyone is present” in a residence, according to the mailer.
Yee’s bill originally made it a crime for a gun owner not to lock up firearms before leaving their home.
But on August 14, Yee gutted his bill. Now it simply calls on the Department of Justice to “determine effective firearm safe storage measures.” Dan Lieberman, Yee’s press secretary, said the previous version couldn’t pass the Assembly Public Safety Committee.
“We didn’t have the votes to move forward so we’re hoping with a study bill we can find out more and get people more OK with the idea,” Lieberman said.
The only Assembly bill on the NRA’s hit list is A.B. 711, which bans the use of lead bullets in hunting. Or what the bill by Assemblyman Anthony Rendon, a Lakewood Democrat, calls “the taking of all wildlife.”
Rendon’s bill “erodes hunting in California by mandating the use of ammunition that is not widely available,” the NRA mailer says.
The analysis of Rendon’s bill by the Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Water says 37 manufacturers make hunting cartridges with non-lead bullets.
Prices are comparable: A box of lead-free cartridges runs $30 to $33 while a box of lead cartridges are $26 to $37, the analysis says.
Citing a November 2012 study appearing in AMBIO, an environmental journal published by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, the analysis says “virtually all lead bullet calibers used for hunting are available in non-lead versions, as are the hunting cartridges themselves.”
In the objections it lodged with the Senate committee on Rendon’s bill, the NRA says lead poisoning of wildlife continues despite a partial ban on the use of lead bullets in California.
“There are serious questions about the purported nexus between traditional ammunition and lead poisoning and the mortality in California condors and other wildlife,” the group’s opposition letter says.
In addition to Steinberg’s bill, the mailer objects to two of the other six bills in the upper house’s so-called LIFE Act: “Lifesaving Intelligent Firearms Enforcement,” which is pending in the Assembly.
One of the measures is S.B. 396 by Sen. Loni Hancock, a Berkeley Democrat, which bans magazines of 10 rounds or more.
The mailer says Hancock’s bill “criminalizes the possession of standard, factory ammunition magazines.”
Also included in the Senate package is S.B. 53 by Sen. Kevin de Leon, a Los Angeles Democrat, which requires a permit and background check before purchasing ammunition.
De Leon’s bill “strips away the privacy rights of ammunition buyers by requiring a purchase permit, registration and thumbprint for all ammunition purchases,” says the mailer.