Gun-control bills could push California to top of firearm-restriction list

by Josh Richman, San Jose Mercury News  |  published on August 16, 2013

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SACRAMENTO — With summer recess behind them and the legislative session’s five-week homestretch ahead, state lawmakers face a fusillade of gun-control bills that could move California far beyond what any other state has enacted — including proposals to ban a wide range of semi-automatic rifles and impose strict new regulations on ammunition.

And what happens in Sacramento might not stay in Sacramento. With their agenda stalled in Congress, gun-control advocates hope California can break the inertia and reignite the national debate that erupted after a gunman killed 20 children and six adults at a Newtown, Conn., elementary school in December.

“When we see movement on the California bills and the sort of tenacity that you had post-Newtown, it makes it really hard for the gun lobby to say the momentum has gone away. And it’s certainly something Congress pays attention to,” said Kristen Rand, legislative director at the Violence Policy Center in Washington, D.C. “You can’t underestimate how important it is for Congress to see movement in the states, especially big states like California.”

Nonsense, gun-rights supporters say.

“While they may try to reignite their lost momentum, I don’t think anything California does is going to affect what Washington does,” said Larry Keane, senior vice president and general counsel for the National Shooting Sports Foundation, a firearms trade group coincidentally based in Newtown. “We constantly see a barrage of anti-gun, anti-industry legislation being introduced in California, far more than in any other state.”

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