Train Wreck

posted on August 24, 2016

This feature appears in the September ‘16 issue of NRA America’s 1st Freedom, one of the official journals of the National Rifle Association

How a power struggle among California Democrats cost gun owners another chunk of their rights.

Arms confiscation from law-abiding citizens is now the law in California, as are other new measures imposing severe, pointless burdens on what remains of Second Amendment-protected rights there. The perpetrators of these injustices were, first of all, hate-spewing politicians who oppose civil rights, and secondly, Democratic power brokers who used gun control in a power struggle within the California Democratic Party. The California laws provide a model that will be used wherever the gun prohibition lobbies attain legislative power. The new California laws confiscate magazines, ban guns, uselessly restrict ammunition and outlaw the lending of firearms to friends and family. 

The story begins with California Democratic Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, who will be running for governor in 2018. If he wins then, his next objective would be the presidency of the United States. And Newsom apparently believes that he can ride the anti-gun issue all the way to the White House. 

For the November 2016 election, Newsom has placed an extreme anti-gun initiative on the California ballot. Self-identifying as the state’s foremost opponent of civil rights, Newsom aims to win the 2018 Democratic primary by garnering the votes of bigots. 

Newsom, however, is not particularly popular with certain factions of the California Democratic establishment, including Gov. Jerry Brown and Senate President Kevin de León. So a plan was concocted to deny Newsom credit for the November anti-gun initiative by passing the same severe restrictions legislatively. Although the Newsom initiative will still be on the November ballot, its practical and political effect is now greatly diminished.While Brown did veto some other gun control bills this year, the damage that will be wrought by the ones he signed is enormous indeed.

Opposition from law enforcement and other law-abiding citizens was so strong that the anti-gun bills could not have made it through the normal legislative process. To prevent the public from receiving proper notice of what the Legislature was doing, proponents of the measures used sleazy legislative tricks—“gut and amend,” “special order of business” and “without reference to file.” Bills about unrelated topics, such as global warming and energy, were turned into bills specifically about guns. 

Brown has had a mixed record on Second Amendment issues. In the past, he has carefully examined most gun bills that cross his desk. But this year, he signed all of the worst bills within mere hours of their arrival in his office. In fact, among the bills he signed were two that were nearly identical to ones he had previously vetoed. While Brown did veto some other gun control bills this year, the damage that will be wrought by the ones he signed is enormous indeed. 

Although intra-Democratic party politics are part of the reason for California’s awful new laws, hate played an important role too. Consider that during an Assembly committee hearing on June 14, Democratic Assemblyman Evan Low pointed to the murders of 49 people by a jihadi terrorist at an Orlando, Fla., nightclub. Low told the NRA’s witness, “Of course the reason they were murdered was basically because of your organization.” Low, who is assistant majority whip, falsely claimed that NRA members support murderers who “terrorize our streets.” 

Democratic Sen. Isadore Hall was furious at citizens who testified that the anti-gun bills would do no good. He said that the civil rights advocates were “crazy, vicious, heartless,” and that “They need to wash their mouths because they are filthy.” As sponsor of a bill that bans hundreds of thousands of firearms owned by law-abiding citizens, Hall even claimed that citizens who own these guns are interested only in mass murder: “They are designed only to facilitate the maximum destruction of human life.” 

Democratic Assemblyman Reggie Jones Sawyer claimed that opposition to the anti-ammunition bill “really just helps killers” and “mass murderers.” As for the confiscation of all magazines that hold more than 10 rounds, Democratic Sen. Loni Hancock insisted, “These so-called high-capacity magazines are not for target shooting or hunting.” Rather, according to Hancock, “Their sole purpose is to kill as many people as possible in the shortest period of time.” Her hate speech was straight out of Michael Bloomberg’s propaganda playbook. 

Magazine Confiscation
The gun-prohibition lobbies have always claimed that gun owners are “paranoid” for believing that anyone wants to confiscate arms. In 1999, the California Legislature outlawed the sale or import of magazines holding more than 10 rounds, but people who already owned such magazines were allowed to keep them.

Taking a leaf out of New York’s 2013 so-called “Safe Act,” the California Legislature has now ordered the confiscation of all such magazines. Under California’s Senate Bill 1446, Californians have until July 1, 2017, to surrender them. According to the law, their options are: “1) Remove the large-capacity magazine from the state; 2) Sell the large-capacity magazine to a licensed firearms dealer; 3) Destroy the large-capacity magazine;” or “4) Surrender the large-capacity magazine to a law enforcement agency for destruction.”

Ammunition Restrictions And Registration
Another bill copied from New York (which, in effect, means copied from Bloomberg) requires checks on all ammunition purchases. The first problem with de León’s Senate Bill 1235 is that it is technically unfeasible, since it massively expands the number of checks processed by a system that is already having trouble keeping up with checks on firearm sales. After all, a firearm might be purchased only once, but the owner might buy ammunition for the firearm dozens of times over the years. For this reason, New York has never implemented the background check on ammunition purchases. 

(Democratic Assemblyman Evan) Low told the NRA’s witness, “Of course the reason they were murdered was basically because of your organization.”The second problem is that whatever “check” the California Department of Justice purports to conduct will be inadequate. California will not be allowed to access the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) because a federal statute prohibits that system from being used for ammunition rather than firearms.

SB 1235 also requires ammunition vendors to send sales reports to the California Department of Justice for the purpose of creating a registration system for ammunition ownership. Already, California registers all guns and gun owners. Now, the DOJ will have an inventory of almost every round of ammunition. 

If you have a few boxes of extra ammunition that you want to give to your best friend, you must to go a gun store for the gift to be processed. Even among immediate family members, the transfer of more than 50 rounds of ammunition within a 30-day period will be a crime. 

What about Californians going to other states to purchase ammunition? That’s already taken care of. If you are not a licensed ammunition vendor, bringing more than 50 rounds into California is a crime.

As the Sacramento Bee explained in a July 8 article, the California Department of Agriculture already operates border checkpoints to prevent the import of certain fruits and vegetables, poached game, or diseased animals. So at the checkpoints, ammunition possession can be scrutinized. The article advises: “If you are purchasing ammunition in California, going hunting in another state and then returning with more than 50 rounds, keep a record of the sale to establish it’s on the level.” Most of SB 1235 takes effect in 2019.

Gun Ban
In 1989, California enacted the Roberti-Roos Assault Weapons Control Act. Of course, “assault weapon” is a phony political term with no fixed content; its rhetorical purpose is so that gun banners can claim that they are targeting only a small number of unusual firearms. Research consistently shows that “assault weapon” bans never reduce crime. So every time a ban fails, there is a pretext to expand the ban even further.

Prior to passage of the newest ban, the sale of all firearms that use detachable magazines was already severely restricted. The law did not apply if removing the magazine from the gun required the use of a tool. Thus, California gun owners often equipped their firearms with a “bullet button.” On a gun with a bullet button, removing the magazine requires a tool to depress a latch that holds the magazine in place. A pointed bullet could function as such a tool, as can many other narrow tools. 

Starting in January 2017, all semi-automatic centerfire rifles that do not have fixed magazines will be illegal if they have a bad “feature,” such as a thumbhole stock, a telescoping or folding stock, or a pistol grip.

Current owners can keep their guns only if they go through a special registration process with the California Department of Justice. Use of these firearms is severely limited, and they may not be transferred to anyone else. So it is illegal to give your old hunting rifle with a thumbhole stock to one of your children, even by inheritance.

The ban’s sponsors were Hall (the state senator who said that people who are skeptical of gun control’s efficacy are “filthy”) and Democratic Assemblyman Marc Levine. Levine said that the ban was needed because “Military assault weapons have no place on our streets”—as if there were any military in the world that uses rifles with bullet buttons.As California demonstrates, whatever the gun-ban lobby is willing to accept in order to pass something today soon becomes a “loophole” that must be eliminated tomorrow.

No Lending Of Firearms
California already has what Bloomberg, President Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton euphemistically call “universal” background checks. Almost all private sales or gifts of firearms are illegal, and so are many instances of lending a gun to someone. California did allow the lending of firearms for up to 30 days between people who personally knew each other, but that has now been abolished.

Starting in January, if you want to let someone borrow your gun—such as to take it to a target range for an afternoon—both of you must now go to a gun store and have the transfer processed as if you were selling a firearm. That includes a 10-day waiting period for the borrower to take the possession of the gun. And then you must endure the same process, including the 10-day waiting period, to get your own gun back.

Even lending guns within families is now harshly restricted. Intra-family borrowings are allowed only for parents, grandparents and children. So you cannot lend your handgun to your sister, even for a single day. Within California’s artificial and narrow definition of “family,” the lending of handguns may not exceed six times per year. The lending of long guns is permitted only if “occasional and without regularity.”

California is a good example of why civil rights advocates resist demands to “compromise” by surrendering more rights to the anti-rights lobbies. As California demonstrates, whatever the gun-ban lobby is willing to accept in order to pass something today soon becomes a “loophole” that must be eliminated tomorrow. 

California long ago closed the so-called “gun show loophole,” since background checks are required for all firearm transfers. Yet on July 9, demonstrators from Bloomberg’s Everytown for Gun Safety and Moms Demand Action groups picketed the Crossroads of the West gun show in Del Mar. Since there is no more “loophole” for them to be offended about, apparently the lawful sale of firearms is what really offends them. 

Efforts are already underway to spread California’s dangerous laws nationwide. U.S. Rep. Karen Bass, D-Calif., took to the floor of the U.S. House to demand that Congress copy the new California laws. She read a litany of people who “were murdered by guns in Los Angeles”—inadvertently showing that California’s mean-spirited persecution of law-abiding gun owners does not stop criminals from obtaining guns and perpetrating murders. To the contrary, California laws endanger public safety, such as at San Bernardino, where the victims of a terrorist attack were defenseless, prohibited from carrying arms to defend their own lives. 

Many gun owners will not comply with the magazine confiscation law, predicted San Bernardino Police Chief Jarrod Burguan. “So do we just criminalize a bunch of people who wouldn’t normally be considered criminals?” 

His question was based on the presumption that the purpose of gun control is to reduce criminal misuse of guns. Yet gun laws that criminalize peaceable citizens are, to some extremists, desirable in themselves.



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