Analysis of Calif SB 23 (re. "assault weapons")
of Mar 16, '99

This issue is the one that the Senate Public Safety Committee was supposed to act on on Mar. 23.  News is that they approved the bill and referred it out of their committee.  Presumably this is the issue that they approved.

  1.  Revises penal code (pc) 245(a)(3) to add the new "assault weapons" (pc 12276.1) to the list of weapons for which using the weapon in an assault garners imprisonment of 4, 8 or 12 years.

  2.  Revises pc 12001 by some minor changes ("which" to "that") and to add the new "assault weapons" to the 12001(n)(11) restriction on a person bringing a concealable firearm into the state (through the definition of "personal handgun importer").

  3. Revises pc 12020(a) to make it punishable by up to 1 year in county jail to make, have or offer for sale, give or lend any detachable "large capacity magazine" as defined via a later addition, described below.  Excepts giving or lending to a licensed dealer or gunsmith for the purpose of maintenance, repair or modification.

  4.  Adds under pc 12020(b) exclusions items (19) and (20) to make the large-capacity magazine restriction not apply to sale to, or purchase by, licensed dealers and law enforcement agencies (for use in official duties while on duty and only if the use is authorized by the agency involved).

  5.  Adds definition (25) under 12020(c) for "large capacity magazine."  Defines as any detachable ammo feeding device with the capacity to accept more than 10 rounds, but excludes:  (1)any device permanently altered so that it can not hold more than 10 rounds; and, (2)any .22 caliber tube type magazine.

  6.  Modifies 12022(a)(2) to include use of the new "assault weapons" in the commission (or attempted commission) of certain crimes, or being a participant in the crime in which the weapon is used, as an act that garners a criminal some sentence enhancement.

  7.  This version of the bill deleted the sentence enhancements that were in the original version (12022 and 12022.5) for use of a "large capacity firearm"

  8.  Modifies 12022.5(a)(2) to include use of the new "assault weapons" in the commission (or attempted commission) of certain crimes as an act that garners a criminal some sentence enhancement.

  9.  Adds 12276.1 to include THE ADDITIONAL THINGS to be defined as "assault weapons."  The new definition includes centerfire semiauto rifle with fixed magazine with a capacity greater than 10 rounds and centerfire semiauto rifle with detachable magazine and any one of:  "conspicously protruding" (?) pistol grip (behind the trigger?), thumbhole stock, vertical handgrip, (in front of trigger?  differ from "pistol" grip?) folding or telescoping stock, grenade launcher, flare launcher, overall length less than 30 inches, or threaded barrel capable of accepting a flash suppressor, forward handgrip or silencer.

This feature list is more restrictive than the federal "semiautomatic assault weapon" definition in that it allows none of the "bad" features while the federal law allows one.  Note, too, that the listed features are not all the same as those in the federal list, so as to capture even more "assault weapons."  See the bill for definitions of the evil pistols and shotguns.

10.  Revises 12280 re. penalties in an awkward attempt to distinguish the penalties for the new "California assault weapons" (12276.1) from the penalties for the existing "California assault weapons" (CAWs).  This consists of adding new (c) and (d) and renumbering the old (c) thru (l) to (e) thru (m) & (q).

11.  Revises old (d) [new (f)] of 12280 to allow law enforcement personnel to have and use "assault weapons," regardless of whether they are on duty or the use is within the scope of their duties--and to allow possession by retired law enforcement personnel.  The gun banners have to treat law enforcement personnel well so they will support the bill.

12.  Revises old (e) [new (g)] of 12280 to allow possession of the newly defined CAW during the year "after the date it was defined as an assault weapon pursuant to Section 12276.1" provided that the person lawfully possessed the CAW before the date it was so defined.  Presumably, the new CAW is "defined" as being an "assault weapon" on the date the statute says 12276.1 becomes effective (1/1/2000).

13.  Adds subdivision (n) of 12280 to say that subdivision (b), which prohibits CAW possession, does not apply to a person "acting in accordance with Section 12286" (about getting a CAW permit) or to a person who already has a permit for a CAW who is acting in accordance with 12285 (about registering a CAW).  This seems to be about being in the process of getting a permit, or getting a CAW registered when one already has a permit for another CAW.

14.  Adds subdivision (o) of 12280 to say that both subdivisions (a) and (b), which together prohibit CAW making, distribution, sale AND possession, do not apply to a person acting in accordance with 12285 (registering), 12286 (getting a permit) or 12290 (doing "dealer things").

15.  Adds subdivision (p) of 12280 to say that subdivision (b), that prohibits possession, does not apply to a registered owner possessing the CAW in accordance with 12285(c), which gives possession requirements over and above permits and registration.

16.  Revises old (l) [new (q)] to add the operative date of new section 12276.1 (new CAW definition) as part of the definition as to what is meant by "the date a firearm is an assault weapon."

17.  Revises 12285(a) to require registering any of the new categories of CAW already possessed on the effective date (1/1/2000) of the new Section 12276.1 within 1 year after that date--that is, by 1/1/2001.

18.  Revises 12285(b)(1) to include the new categories of CAW in the requirement to--within 90 days--disable, dispose of, or get a permit for a CAW obtained by inheritance.

19.  In 12285, changes old (g) to (h) and adds new (g) to say that a firearm that is already registered as a CAW before the date it becomes a CAW because of the new definition does not have to be registered again.

20.  Revises 12289(a) to require the DOJ "public education and notification program" to cover the new definition of CAW.

21.  Includes a section 10 (of the bill) saying the the purpose of act/bill is "to effectively achieve the Legislature's intent to prohibit all assault weapons."