California has long been a leading state in enacting firearm regulations, and the recent massacre at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando has prompted Californian legislators to take decisive action to close unintended loopholes in existing gun laws. The new laws add to the state’s restrictions on assault-style weapons and expands the system of background checks.
At the signing, Governor Jerry Brown declared that “My goal in signing these bills is to enhance public safety by tightening our existing laws in a responsible and focused manner, while protecting the rights of law-abiding gun owners.”
California already had tight control over assault-style weapons, so the new laws only make minor amendments – but those amendments could save countless lives. “Bullet buttons,” which are devices that allow quick magazine changes on military-style firearms using a small tool, are now banned; bullet buttons were developed to exploit a technicality in a previous California state law that required magazine changes to only be possible using a tool, which was intended to end rapid reloading. Additionally, magazines holding more than ten bullets are now banned.
The existing system of background checks established that all firearm purchases required a ten day waiting period for background checks to be performed, and a Firearm Safety Certificate acquired by passing a written test. The new laws introduced background checks for ammunition purchases, which will restrict firearm owners with a new offense or out-of-state firearms from loading their guns, and background checks on firearms loaned to non-family members.
California’s laws do allow for gun ownership and nobody is trying to deprive Americans of their rights. But Californian legislators would rather impose a few minor inconvenience on gun owners to protect public health and safety. These laws are exemplary, and we approve of the new reforms that close loopholes in the existing system. We look forward to the day when similar safety reforms are enacted across America to protect the lives of American citizens. We endorse Constitutional rights, but we believe that rights must be interpreted in a way that does not endanger the American people. Just as free speech does not protect incitement to violence, the right to bear arms should not protect unrestricted firearm access.
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Marisa completed her undergraduate degree in 2013 at the University of Wisconsin with a double major in creative writing and media studies. She is an advocate of progressive policies and focuses her interests on gender equality and preventing sexual and domestic violence.