Nearly half of the 18 gun control bills passed by the California Legislature this past session were vetoed by Governor Jerry Brown Friday, including three of the four bills deemed essential by the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.
Brown vetoed seven bills and signed 11, but still drew the wrath of the right-wing Washington Times, which decried “California’s great gun grab” and echoed a warning from critics that one of the signed bills “would effectively end hunting as a sport in California.”
The new law that will drive all California hunters out of the state—or not—is Assembly Bill 711, which extends existing bans on using lead ammunition in certain instances to include the taking of all wildlife. Accepted science blames lead ammunition for poisoning millions of animals that weren’t shot, but who ate animals that were. Lead bullets are a particular threat the state’s endangered condors.
Brown also signed bills to: require long-gun buyers to earn safety certificates like those already required of handgun buyers; extend the prohibition from owning firearms for those who have described a credible violent threat to a psychotherapist from six months to five years; make it illegal to leave a loaded firearm where a child is able to get its hands on it; require a licensed psychotherapist to alert law enforcement within 24 hours if someone has communicated a serious threat of physical violence; and ban conversion kits for making regular magazines high-capacity. (Brown also signed five other bills.)
The seven bills he vetoed included Senate Bill 374, proposed by Senate leader Darrell Steinberg, which would have effectively extended the definition of assault rifle by banning semi-automatic rifles with detachable magazines and required firearm owners to register even low-capacity rifles as assault weapons.
That legislation was at the top of the Brady Campaign list. Brown also vetoed two other bills the group pushed for: Senate Bill 567, which would have updated the definition of an illegal shotgun to include a shotgun with a revolving cylinder and a rifled bore; and Senate Bill 755, which would have expanded the list of convicts who can't legally own guns to include those with multiple drug or alcohol convictions and street gang members.
Those vetoes attracted criticism from the left that rivaled complaints from the right in intensity. Paul Song, executive chairman of CourageCampaign.org., said that Brown had placed “craven political considerations” ahead of safety. “This is the kind of cowardly behavior we expect from out NRA-owned elected officials in Washington, not from a California democrat who should know better.”
Assemblyman Tim Donnelly, a Tea Party favorite expected to run for governor in the next election, expressed relief that Steinberg’s assault rifle ban was vetoed but called Brown’s bill signings “the single greatest assault on the 2nd Amendment in California history.” He said conservatives would scour the voting records of state lawmakers to see who they might challenge in recall campaigns similar to the two successful efforts in Colorado last month.
Donnelly has a personal stake in seeing that gun laws aren’t expanded. Assembly Bill 2182 was introduced in February 2012 in reaction to the assemblyman being caught trying to take a loaded gun on a plane at Ontario International Airport. The authorities grabbed his gun but let him go. AB 2182 would have required that flyers packing heat be arrested on the spot. The bill died in committee.