09/24/03 15:07:10 GOVERNOR DAVIS STRENGTHENS CALIFORNIAS GUN SAFETY LAWS; SIGNS FIRST-IN-THE-NATION BILL 09/24/2003
OFFICE OF THE GOVERNOR
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
GOVERNOR DAVIS STRENGTHENS CALIFORNIA‚S GUN SAFETY LAWS; SIGNS FIRST-IN-THE-NATION BILL 09/24/2003 SACRAMENTO
Governor Gray Davis has signed a package of gun safety legislation, including a landmark safety measure for semiautomatic firearms.
"I am proud to have signed some of the toughest gun safety laws in the nation," Gov. Davis said. "Make no mistake about it; this is about saving lives and putting the responsibility of gun safety on the manufacturers‚not the innocent people who pay the ultimate price."
SB 489 by Senator Jack Scott (D-Altadena) requires that all center-fire semiautomatic pistols not already listed in the Department of Justice (DOJ) roster of approved "safe" firearms to have a chamber load indicator and a magazine disconnect device. The chamber load indicator is a safety feature that indicates when a bullet is in the chamber. The disconnect device is a safety feature that prevents a semiautomatic pistol from firing unless the magazine in inserted in the pistol.
SB 489 makes California the first state in the nation to require these safety features to be included on semiautomatic firearms. The bill takes effect on January 1, 2007.
"This bill will prevent senseless deaths," Sen. Scott said. "Gun makers have known about ways to make their guns safer for over a century, but they have chosen to ignore them. We can't wait any longer for them to do the right thing."
The first known patent for chamberload indicators was granted in 1888. By 1903, John Browning, the well known gun manufacturer, had patented a pistol with a loaded chamber indicator. As late as 1988, Colt obtained a patent for a light-emitting diode to indicate the chamber was loaded.
Today's bill signings were noted at a Sacramento press conference at the State Capitol in Sacramento. Parents Griffin and Lynn Dix of Berkeley, who spoke at the Capitol, lost their son, 15-year-old son Kenzo Dix, in 1994 in an accidental shooting. Kenzo was killed when a teenage friend shot him while demonstrating how to operate a semiautomatic handgun. The shooter thought he had checked to see if the gun was unloaded.
"My son's friend had fired this same handgun at a shooting range with his father," Griffin Dix said. "If the handgun came equipped with a prominent chamber-loaded indicator--a red button showing that a bullet was in the chamber--he would have learned the function of this device and my son would be alive today."
Griffin Dix is now the program director for Physicians for a Violence Free Society.
Gov. Davis also signed the following gun control/safety legislation:
SB 824 by Senator Jack Scott (D-Altadena) authorizes a firearm dealer to obtain a background check for an employee who handles or has access to firearms to make sure that employee is not legally prohibited from owning, possessing or having access to firearms. The legislation also improves the Department of Justice's recording process as it pertains to the delivery of firearms, particularly handguns. And, it protects persons who wish to acquire handguns from being overcharged by firearms dealers for processing "private party" firearms transactions.
AB 319 by Dario Frommer (D-Los Feliz) prohibits juveniles convicted of carrying a concealed handgun or a loaded firearm on their person or in an automobile from owning or possessing a firearm until the age of 30.
SB 226 by Senator Gil Cedillo (D-East Los Angeles) prohibits a person who is subject to an elder or dependent abuse protective order from owning, purchasing, possessing or receiving a firearm while the order is in effect. The prohibition specifically targets a person who has been found to be violent, has a propensity for violence, or who has threatened the use of violence.
AB 1290 by Assemblymember Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara) prohibits a person subject to an emergency stalking protective order or an elder or dependent abuse protective order from owning, purchasing or possessing a firearm while the order is in effect.
SB 238 by Senator Don Perata (D-Oakland) is a technical bill that cleans up conflicts in the Penal Code involving firearms or other dangerous weapons. This bill also amends the Penal Code to respond to recent court decisions to require individuals or groups that own, possess or sell flamethrowers, machine guns or assault weapons to have a DOJ issued permit. SB 238 also restricts the possession of firearms to individuals convicted of specific firearm violations.
"This is just the latest in a long line of gun safety measures I've signed," Gov. Davis said. "We've banned assault weapons and large-capacity magazines, banned "junk guns," revoked immunity from product liability for gun manufacturers and created a mandatory child safety lock requirement.
"I'm very proud that these measures add up to make California's record on gun safety the toughest in America.