California lawmakers on Monday passed bill aimed at filling a loophole in state gun laws that surfaced after a mass shooting at a synagogue in suburban San Diego last year. The Senate sent the bill to Governor Gavin Newsom for consideration.
The state currently prohibits the sale of rifles to anyone under the age of 21 unless they have a valid hunting license, but the 19-year-old Poway shooter was able to purchase a semi-automatic rifle for the assault despite his age despite not having a valid hunting license .
Senator Anthony J. Portantino's (D-La Cañada Flintridge) bill would require arms dealers and the Justice Department to certify that gun buyers under the age of 21 have a valid hunting license.
"We have an epidemic of gun violence in our country and unfortunately it has become all too common to see senseless violence on the news," said Portantino. "It is even more appalling that these shootings, including the Poway tragedy, are increasingly targeting places of worship."
The state has enacted numerous other gun restrictions following mass shootings in recent years, including deadly attacks in Gilroy and San Bernardino.
The Portantino measure, SB 914, was previously approved by the Senate but is returning to approval of changes that included a delay in the implementation date until July 1, 2021.
The loophole was discovered through an investigation into the April 2019 gunfire attack on Chabad of Poway, which killed one person and injured three. The shooter had paid for a hunting license, but it was not yet valid at the time the rifle was purchased. Nobody checked its validity.
The bill provides for the gun seller to visually check a buyer's hunting license to make sure it is valid during the 10 day waiting period to purchase a gun and record the document number and dates during which it is valid. The state Department of Justice, which is reviewing weapons purchases, would need to review the license with the state Department of Fish and Wildlife.
A letter to lawyers for the San Diego law firm said that Portantino legislation "would fill that loophole."
The move is opposed by proponents of gun owners, including the Gun Owners of California group.
"This legislation will eliminate most, if not all, youth shooting programs across the state by making it virtually impossible for teenagers to shoot a firearm provided by anyone other than their parents," the group wrote to lawmakers. "This includes youth camps and high school shooting teams that have become very popular all over California."
The Portantino bill was one of several gun control measures approved in the final days of the session.
Legislators also sent the governor a bill requiring semi-automatic pistols to be equipped with chamber load indicators, magazine separators, and micro-stamping technology to help law enforcement better track firearms. The bill would come into force on July 1, 2022.
"This is a bill that will help law enforcement agencies use micro-stamping technology to solve gun-related crimes and reduce the number of accidental gun deaths and injuries," said David Chiu MP, D-San Francisco, who presented the bill.
The legislature also approved a bill requiring the state to comply with orders issued by other states to restrict armed violence. The order to temporarily remove firearms from anyone who a court determines is a danger to themselves or others.
Another measure approved by the legislator gives the Ministry of Justice new powers from July 1, 2021 to impose fines on arms dealers who violate state regulations.
The action was taken just days after a study by gun violence research experts at UC Davis Health found that in recent years California has seen a significant decline in gun injuries, the state's overall death rate among the wounded however, firearms have increased significantly.