Assembly Bill 1135, co-authored by Assemblyman Marc Levine, D-Marin, closes an assault weapon loophole.
MARIN, CA — A bill co-authored by state Assemblyman Marc Levine, D-Marin County, that sought to close a loophole in a law allowing gun manufacturers to use “bullet buttons” to evade the assault weapons ban in California has been signed by Gov. Jerry Brown.
Assembly Bill 1135, co-authored by Phil Ting, D-San Francisco, and David Chiu, D-San Francisco, was among six gun-control bills signed into law Friday by the governor. He vetoed five others.
“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,” Brown said.
“This is landmark legislation that strengthens the nation’s first assault weapon ban,” Levine said. “Congress cannot seem to get it together, and California once again is leading the way.”
Levine said military assault weapons have “no place on our streets and gun violence must not be tolerated.”
“We raise our children in communities, not war zones,” he said. “This legislation closes a loophole in law that allows military-style assault rifles to be sold legally in California. The gun manufacturers’ development of the bullet button clearly exploits California law and allows dangerous weapons on our streets.”
AB 1135, which takes effect Jan. 1, 2017, will prohibit the use of a bullet button or other tool that allows for easily changeable magazines on all military-style assault weapons. Guns equipped with a bullet button — the kind of assault rifle that was used in the San Bernardino mass shooting in December and a shooting at Los Angeles International Airport in 2013 — are functionally the same as illegal assault weapons, but are sold legally in California.
“California’s Legislature has acted while Congress stands still,” Assemblyman Ting said. “Gun manufacturers created bullet button guns to evade our assault weapons ban. These guns were created to kill as many people as possible in the shortest amount of time. Keeping these weapons off our streets is a huge victory in our fight against gun violence.”
Current California law bans assault rifles with magazines that are detachable by hand, in order to prevent shooters from reloading quickly and inflicting mass damage.
According to Levine’s office, the gun industry claims that the development of the bullet button made the guns “California compliant” and markets the guns by claiming they can be quickly reloaded. Instead of removing a magazine by hand, the bullet button allows the shooter to simply press a recessed button that is accessible using the tip of a bullet, a pen, magnet or other small device.
Assemblyman Chiu said “reducing the ability to rapidly reload these weapons will save lives in future mass shootings.”
Juliet Leftwich, legal director of the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence in San Francisco, which was formed after an assault weapons massacre at the 101 California Street Building in San Francisco in 1993 that left eight people dead and six wounded, also commented on the newly-signed legislation.
“We understand that these weapons of war have no place in civilian hands and that gun manufacturers will do anything they can to circumvent existing laws to ban them,” Leftwich said.
Amanda Wilcox, legislation and policy chair of the California Chapters of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, said since “California’s first assault weapons law was passed in 1989 in the wake of the tragic Stockton school yard shooting, we have struggled to make it real in the face of the gun industry’s determination to find new ways to evade the law’s intent.”