Tracking State Gun Laws: 2013 California Firearms Legislation

Posted on October 17, 2013

The Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence is proud of the unprecedented progress California made in improving its already strong firearms safety laws in 2013. In response to the Newtown school shooting and other incidents of gun violence that devastate our communities every day, California legislators passed a historic number of bills to help prevent gun-related deaths and injuries in California, and Governor Brown signed 10 of those bills. The 17 bills described briefly below are all the 2013 firearms bills the Law Center supported that were passed by the legislature and either signed or vetoed by the governor.

For a more complete summary of each bill, and other firearms-related legislation introduced in 2013, please download our complete analysis of all firearms related bills introduced this year.

For more information about the legislative process in California, see this overview of the legislative process or the publication California’s Legislature.

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AB 500 (Ammiano): Storage of Firearms in Homes with Prohibited Persons, Waiting Period Extension and Firearm Transfer Notifications

AB 500 requires any gun owner residing with a person who is prohibited from owning firearms under state or federal law to either: 1) keep the firearm within a locked container, locked gun safe, locked trunk, locked with a locking device, or disabled by a firearm safety device; or 2) carry the firearm on his or her person.

AB 500 also clarifies that the ten-day waiting period between the sale of a firearm and its transfer to the purchaser may be extended an additional 30 days if the Department of Justice (“DOJ”) is unable to determine the outcome of a mental health evaluation, unable to interpret arrest or criminal charge records, or unable to determine whether the purchaser is attempting to purchase a second handgun in a 30-day period in violation of California law, prior to the end of the waiting period.

AB 48 (Skinner): Strengthening Large Capacity Ammunition Magazine Ban

AB 48 prohibits the use of “conversion kits” to manufacture large capacity ammunition magazines. It also prohibits the purchase of large capacity ammunition magazines and tightens the definition of “manufacture” in the current law to clarify that manufacturing includes assembling the parts of a magazine.

SB 683 (Block): Firearm Safety Certificate

Under prior California law, “handgun safety certificates” issued by DOJ, which require the applicant to take and pass a written test on firearm safety, are required for the purchase of a handgun, but not for the purchase of a long gun. SB 683 expands the safety certificate requirement to apply to purchases of all firearms. This requirement does not apply to long guns owned by persons with valid hunting licenses.

SB 140 (Leno/Steinberg): Funding Enforcement of Armed Prohibited Persons System

SB 140 appropriates 24 million dollars to DOJ to address a backlog in its database for tracking persons prohibited from owning firearms. With more than 20,000 prohibited persons on the list and an additional 15 to 20 individuals added each day, neither DOJ nor local law enforcement had sufficient resources to address the existing backlog without this additional appropriation.

AB 1131 (Skinner): Mental Health Related Prohibitions

Prior law prohibited a person who communicates to a licensed psychotherapist a serious threat of physical violence against a reasonably identifiable victim or victims from possessing a firearm for six months following the psychotherapist’s reporting of the threat to local law enforcement. The bill changes this prohibition from six months to five years. AB 1131 also amends existing laws that require the reporting of mental health information to DOJ to clarify that these reports must made electronically.

SB 127 (Gaines): Reporting of Mental Health Threats

Prior law prohibited a person from possessing a firearm for a period of six months after communicating a serious threat of physical violence against a reasonably identifiable victim or victims to a licensed psychotherapist. SB 127 requires the licensed psychotherapist to report any such threat to local law enforcement within 24 hours in a manner prescribed by DOJ. The bill also requires the local law enforcement agency receiving the report to notify DOJ electronically, within 24 hours, in a manner prescribed by DOJ.

AB 231 (Ting & Gomez): Strengthening Child Access Prevention Law and Keeping Firearms from Prohibited People

In certain circumstances, California law imposes criminal liability on firearm owners who, through their negligence, enable children to access their weapons. Previously, that law only applied when the child carried the weapon off the premises or killed or injured someone. AB 231 expands that law to apply whenever a person negligently stores or leaves a loaded firearm on his or her premises in a location where the person knows, or reasonably should know, that a child is likely to gain access to the firearm, regardless of whether a child actually acquires control of the firearm.

SB 363 (Wright): Storage of Firearms in Homes with Prohibited Persons

SB 363 imposes criminal liability on gun owners who store their firearms in a place where they knew or reasonably should have known that a person prohibited from possessing guns under federal state law was likely to gain access to the firearm and the prohibited person does gain such access and injures or kills someone or carries the weapon into a public place.

AB 170 (Bradford): Revising Permits for Assault Weapons and 50 Caliber Rifles

Previous law required a person wishing to acquire an assault weapon or 50 caliber rifle to obtain a permit from DOJ. To ensure that any individual possessing these weapons has passed a background check, this bill changes the definition of “person” in the law so that it only includes individuals and not legal entities such as corporations or partnerships.

AB 539 (Pan): Prohibited Persons Firearm Storage with Dealers

This bill allows anyone who is prohibited from possessing a firearm to transfer any firearm in his or her possession to a licensed firearms dealer for storage during the duration of the prohibition.

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SB 374 (Steinberg): Assault Weapons -

SB 374 would have simplified and strengthened California’s assault weapons ban by prohibiting the manufacture, sale or possession of any semiautomatic centerfire rifle capable of accepting a detachable ammunition magazine. Owners of weapons that would have been legal prior to the enactment of SB 374 would have been required to register them with DOJ.

AB 180 (Bonta): Exempting Oakland from State Preemption of Firearms Registration and Licensing

State law currently preempts local governments from requiring the registration of guns or licensing of gun owners. AB 180 would have created an exemption for the City of Oakland—a community particularly ravaged by gun violence.

SB 755 (Wolk): Expanding Categories of Prohibited Persons

SB 755 would have prohibited a person from possessing a firearm if he or she has been convicted of two or more specified crimes involving intoxication or possession of a controlled substance within a three-year period. Additionally, SB 755 would have prohibited a person from possessing any firearm while receiving court-ordered assisted outpatient treatment for mental illness (unless the court orders otherwise).

SB 299 (DeSaulnier): Reporting of Lost or Stolen Firearms

SB 299 would have required any person whose firearm is lost or stolen to make a report to local law enforcement within 7 days from the time the person knew or should have known that the firearm was lost or stolen.

AB 169 (Dickenson): Strengthening Unsafe Handgun Law

State law prohibits the manufacture or retail sale of an unsafe handgun, but transfers of unsafe handguns between private parties and purchases and sales by law enforcement officers are exempt from this prohibition. AB 169 would have limited the sale of unsafe handguns between private parties to two per year and prohibited law enforcement from transferring unsafe handguns to individuals who are not similarly exempted from the unsafe handgun prohibition.

SB 567 (Jackson): Revising Shotgun Definition in Assault Weapons Ban

This bill would have addressed the emergence on the consumer market of rifled bore shotguns with revolving ammunition cylinders. California’s assault weapons law prohibits the possession of a shotgun with a revolving ammunition cylinder, but because these newer firearms have rifled bores, they do not fall within the definition of “shotgun.” By updating this definition, SB 567 would have brought these dangerous firearms within the scope of the assault weapons ban.

SB 475 (Leno): Regulating Firearm Sales at the Cow Palace

This bill would have required anyone wishing to hold an event at the Cow Palace where firearms or ammunition are to be sold to acquire the prior approval of the boards of supervisors of both the County of San Mateo and the City and County of San Francisco.