Key part of a historic gun reform package
Sacramento – On Friday, July 1st, Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law Senator Steve Glazer’s legislation to ban the so-called bullet button, a key element of a historic gun reform package approved by the Legislature a day earlier.
Glazer, D-Orinda, is joint author with Sen. Isadore Hall, D-Los Angeles, on the bullet button ban, SB 880.
A bullet button assault-style rifle was used by the shooters who killed 14 people and wounded 21 in the San Bernardino terrorist attack last year.
“This isn’t about hunting or home protection,” said Sen. Glazer. “This isn’t about taking people’s guns away. I believe everyone has a right to hunt and to protect their families from harm in their home. It’s about a mechanism on assault-style rifles whose sole purpose is to allow someone to kill a lot of people quickly.
“We need to make it more difficult for a deranged person to enter a schoolyard, movie theater, or workplace with a rapid fire weapon. This measure is another small but important step in making our communities safer.”
Existing law prohibits the possession or sale of assault weapons and limits magazines to 10 rounds. But a loophole in the law – allowing guns with fixed magazines to be modified with a simple “tool”– had led to the manufacture of assault-style guns with magazines that can be easily detached – contrary to the spirit of the assault-weapon ban. The magazines are equipped with a button that can be pressed by a bullet or other tool to quickly detach the magazine. Since the magazine requires a tool, it was considered “fixed” and therefore legal.
To see the full text of the bill, visit the California Legislative Information website.
Opponents argued that the language in the bill was vague, among other things. According to the Firearms Policy Coalition website:
Senate Bill 880 (authored by Senators Hall and Glazer) attempts to subvert long-standing law regarding the definition of “detachable magazine”and “fixed magazine”. It relies on unclear, undefined language such as “without disassembly of the action” or “does not have a fixed magazine”and seeks to prohibit the purchase, inheritance, sale, transfer, transport, importation and manufacture of the most common and popular protected weapons of the modern era.
In Governor Brown’s signing message, he noted that the bullet button bill and certain others in the package “enhance public safety by tightening our existing laws in a responsible and focused manner, while protecting the rights of law-abiding gun owners.”
“Gun makers have exploited a loophole in the law that expressly prohibits assault weapons in California,” Glazer said. “We’ve seen the horror of these weapons with mass murders. We should not allow weapons that are designed specifically for modern warfare to proliferate on our streets.”
Senator Glazer worked as a senior staffer for Sen. President Pro Tem David Roberti in enacting a ban, in 1989, on assault weapons in California, the first state in the U.S. to do so. As mayor of Orinda, he was a charter member of the national organization, “Mayors Against Illegal Guns.”
For more information about the “bullet button” see the article on The Trace website.