Governor Jerry Brown signed 11 pieces of gun-control legislation last year and vetoed seven, but the new law with arguably the most firepower was passed by the Legislature in 2011 with an activation date of January 1, 2014.
AB 809 took effect with little mainstream media fanfare, requiring sellers of long guns to run background checks on buyers and submit the information to the state for storage in a database. It is basically the same procedure the state runs for its handgun registry.
Although the new law was ignored in many New Year wrapups of debuting legislation, it did not fly under the radar of Second Amendment advocates who spread the word that California had moved one step closer to gun confiscation. Anecodotal evidence from a single gunshop owner that the new law had prompted a run on long guns before it kicked in spread throughout the righty blogosphere. But there was no independent evidence that sales were up 30% to 50% or that any uptick in sales had something to do with more than the start of hunting season.
Gun store owner John Deaser, whose pronouncemount on increased sales at his location, Just Guns, went viral, called the new law an “unnecessary invasion of privacy.” “These are law-abiding citizens,” he told CBS 13 in Sacramento. “They’re not trying to beat the system or anything like that. They just don’t want to be tracked.”
The only way to avoid getting put into a state database, critics said, was to purchase their weapons by December 31.
Backers of the new law say it does not create gun registration, that it merely says the state must retain background-check records of those who purchase guns, big and small alike. But opponents say no matter how backers describe the law, its effect will be state officials retaining information on who owns what types of firearms. That amounts to gun registration, they argue.
Law enforcement agencies had previously been mandated to destroy records of all “long gun” transactions within 10 days. Now with the adoption of AB 809, those agencies are required to track the make, model and serial number of such weapons, as well as the identity and address of the gun owners.