Tougher Gun Laws Advance in State Legislature

A .357 magnum revolver shown in 2012 photo.  (Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

The California Senate Public Safety Committee passed several bills Tuesday pushed by Democrats hoping to tighten gun regulations in the state.

The committee passed a measure from Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León that would require anyone assembling a gun to first apply for a serial number to track the weapon.

De León pushed back at critics who said the bill would hurt people who legally assemble guns as a hobby.

“Times have changed," he said, "and when these weapons are flooding the streets and putting our law enforcement agents in jeopardy -- our communities in jeopardy -- we as policy makers need to step in as quickly as possible.”

The committee also passed measures related to the reporting of lost or stolen guns, expanding the definition of prohibited ammunition sales and expanding the definition of assault weapons. A bill requesting the University of California establish a firearm violence research center was approved as well.

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State Sen. Loni Hancock's bill prohibiting the possession of large capacity ammunition magazines was also approved. Hancock said incremental steps are necessary to combat firearm violence.

“Gun safety regulation seems to be plugging one small loophole after another," she said. "There is great ingenuity in the people that want to see these firearms on our street.”

From the other side of the aisle, Republican state Sen. Jeff Stone said the regulations hurt law-abiding gun owners.

“We want to do everything we can to stop the horrific mass shootings that we’ve seen at schools, and certainly the incident in San Bernardino," he said. "But we have to remember that criminals don’t follow the law.”

Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom is also backing a package of gun regulations he’s hoping will qualify for the November ballot, which includes a ban on magazines capable of holding more than 10 rounds and background checks for ammunition sales.

The state affiliate of the National Rifle Association opposes Newsom's measure and say it's unenforceable and overreaching.

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