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Kevin de Léon’s SB 124 and SB 798

The political climate of California is not nearly so varied as that of the land itself. (The political climate is more like those of the North Pole and the South Pole – harsh, cold, EXTREME, SIMILAR, and diametrically OPPOSED! :-) ) However, the political climate offers wonderful conditions for those who think independently (or think at all)! Those who read the news can blast unfeeling and short-sighted Republicans in state government one day (Hey! At least they haven’t SHUT DOWN California’s state government [mostly as the result of citizen initiative and foresight/hindsight in passing Proposition 25 last fall]!) and blast Democrats for their continual assaults on Constitutional liberties, a couple of days later! :-)

Well, you thought that you had heard the last of “cop-killer bullets.” (Weren’t they misrepresented WAY back in “Lethal Weapon 4” [1998]? There must be only a few MILLION California voters stupid enough to believe that marketing phrase. :-) )

Not so. In an attempt to get around Fresno Superior Court Judge Jefferey Hamilton’s ruling in January that California’s ammunition law AB 962 (passed last year and signed by then-Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger) was “unconstitutionally vague on its face,” Kevin de Léon (D- Los Angeles) introduced SB 124, which, in an amended form, passed the California State Senate on June 1, 2011 (by a vote of 22 to 16) as “the Cop-Killer Bullet Ban Protection Act,” according to the California Senate Press Release. The Press Release continues:

“This bill was born to clarify to clarify <sic> the definition of handgun ammunition that was called into question in a political decision earlier this year by Fresno County Superior Court Judge Jeffrey Hamilton. The ruling, brought on by a National Rifle Association lawsuit, clarifies the definition of handgun ammunition in the Penal Code to make certain that this court case nor any future gun lobby lawsuit can invalidate California’s long-standing ban on cop-killer bullets.”

(Come to think of it, I REALLY have to “take issue” with the characterization of Judge Hamilton’s judgment as a “political decision.” It is the responsibility of the courts to “interpret the law” as part of the “separation of powers” in U.S. government. I like the judiciary because it generally obeys the law ( in contrast to, for example, Mr. de Léon’s attempt to “go around” federal law, below). (Note added July 3, 2011: ALSO, come to think of it, the quoted paragraph looks like it was edited by a real “maroon” [despite all of the “clarifications” :-) ], which is what you ultimately get in a society in which the incompetent people lay off the competent people! :-) )

How does SB 124 go about refuting a judge’s decision on AB 962 that invalidated an unconstitutional law? BY BROADENING the definition of the ammunition that would be regulated…! From the same Senate Press Release:

“Senate Bill 124 amends the Penal Code to clarify the definition of ‘handgun ammunition’ and cop-killer bullets. Specifically, the bill deletes the word ‘primarily’ from the Penal Code, which the NRA and court argued was unconstitutionally vague.”

Yes, let’s make a BAD (and unconstitutional) law WORSE! The version (PDF) as amended by the Senate on April 25,2011 is here. WOW – the server for those links was so busy a minute ago that it DROPPED my connection! :-) From the PDF just cited:

“This bill would delete the phrase “principally” from that definition, and recast the definition of handgun ammunition to mean ammunition for use capable of being used in pistols, revolvers, and other firearms capable of being concealed upon the person, notwithstanding that the ammunition may also be used in some rifles.”

So, what does NRA-ILA have to say about SB 124 (just discussed) and SB 798, which we have not yet discussed, but which regulates air guns, gun replicas, and BB guns?

“In reality, De Leon is using SB 124 as a vehicle to require every hunter and target shooter in the state to be fingerprinted for purchases of all ammunition and to prohibit the mail order purchase of all ammunition, including ammunition popular for hunting and sport shooting that has no association with crime. <emphasis mine> To be sure, De León’s bill has nothing to do with protecting police officers and everything to do with limiting the availability of most ammunition types to law-abiding civilians.

De León does not just stop at trying to rid California of its Second Amendment rights through ammunition; he is also attacking air-soft guns, BB guns and imitation firearms. His original anti-gun version of SB 798 would treat air and BB guns as toys by mandating that they be completely painted in bright colors and impose a civil penalty on retailers who do not sell air & BB guns that are properly colored. This version was defeated in the Senate Public Safety Committee because the color of imitation firearms was preempted by federal law.

De León was granted reconsideration to address the federal preemption issue and instead amended <emphasis in the original article> SB 798 to overturn California’s long-standing preemption statute that promotes consistent statewide regulation of air-soft guns, BB guns, and imitation firearms.”

When our children were young, there was a family across the street (in Ohio!) who would not let their boys play with toy guns. The boys built toy guns from Lego blocks, instead! :-)

Oh yeah, I forgot to tell you about the FINGERPRINTING of handgun and long-gun ammunition purchasers. Thumbprinting was in the original bill AB 962 that was signed into law by Governor Schwarzenegger.

The Assembly Public Safety Committee is scheduled to vote on SB 124 and SB 798 on Tuesday, July 5, right after Independence Day! Contact information for all of the members of the Committee is below. Those of you who live in California and care about your liberties may want to contact the members to OPPOSE (vote “NO” on) SB 124 and SB 798.

(Note added July 8, 2011: Unfortunately BOTH of the above bills passed out of the Assembly Public Safety Committee [members are below] on July 5. I received an email from an Assemblymember concerning the bills and asking Californians to contact their State Assemblymembers to OPPOSE these bills. An excerpt is below:

“…The first, SB 124 (De León), expands the definition of crimes relating to armor piercing ammunition and expands the ammunition provisions of AB 962. Though AB 962 was recently ruled unconstitutional, this bill attempts to remedy the issues that concerned the court.

The second is SB 798 (De León), which initially sought to classify all BB gun and airsoft devices as imitation firearms, thereby subjecting them to new rules and specifications (i.e. color, packaging, etc). This bill was originally heard on June 21st by this same committee and defeated. However the author recently amended SB 798 which now would permit local governments to pass ordinances to require BB guns, paintball guns, and airsoft rifles be subject to coloration requirements.

Then on July 7th, the Public Safety Committee discussed SJR 7, which would memorialize the Legislature’s support of the proposed Federal Large Capacity Ammunition Feeding Device Act.

Unfortunately, all of these harmful and unnecessary bills passed out of the public safety committee.”

I wish that a majority of our state legislators were as obsessed with the economic recovery of California as they are with their firearm fetish. Sorry, folks, firearms are just tools for protecting our Constitutional Rights, not demonic devices with magical powers.)

Tom Ammiano (D-13) Chairman
(916) 319-2013

Steve Knight (R-36) Vice-Chairman
(916) 319-2036

Nancy Skinner (D-14)
(916) 319-2014

Jerry Hill (D-19)
(916) 319-2019

Gilbert Cedillo (D-45)
(916) 319-2045

Holly Mitchell (D-47)
(916) 319-2047

Curt Hagman (R-60)
(916) 319-2060

-Bill at

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