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Gun Control Bill Set For Thursday Vote In California Senate

California’s Senate is set to vote this week on a bill funding efforts to take guns away from people who aren’t legally allowed to own them.

The legislation is the first part of a broad Democratic gun control package that includes attempts to ban types of semi-automatic rifles and high-capacity ammunition magazines, as well as expand gun ownership records.
 
The first bill, authored by Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg and San Francisco Democrat Mark Leno, is designed to cut through a three-year backlog of people who are registered with the state as firearms owners, but barred from owning weapons due to criminal records and other factors. The California Department of Justice has information on about 20,000 people who fit that description.
 
The legislation, S.B. 140, authorizes $24 million in already-existing funds for agents to track down illegal gun owners and confiscate their weapons. The money comes from fees assessed during gun purchases.
 
The measure is probably the least-controversial part of the Senate Democratic gun control package. The state already has the money, and the gun-owners are already barred from owning the weapons--but Steinberg says it’s still an important measure. “Most people understand that we’ll be saving a lot of lives here, by collecting guns that ought not to be out in the public and in the hands of people who have a history of violence, a history of criminal activity, and who shouldn’t have a gun,” says Steinberg.
 
The bill cleared the Senate Budget and Fiscal Review Committee on a 14-0 vote, despite concerns from firearms advocates that the already-existing purchasing fee amounts to a tax on gun owners.         
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