Bay Area lawmakers freshen gun control push

Bay Area legislators gathered Monday in San Francisco to call for the passage of a package of gun control legislation they say could help prevent mass shootings like this weekend’s massacre at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida.

The legislative package, which includes new limits on “bullet buttons” allowing quick reloading and on the sale of long guns, faces a key vote in the state Senate Public Safety Committee on Tuesday, according to Assemblyman Phil Ting, D-San Francisco.

Speaking at a news conference with Assemblymen David Chiu, D-San Francisco, Rob Bonta, D-Oakland, and Marc Levine, D-Marin County, Ting noted that in addition to the Orlando shooting, a heavily armed suspect who may have planned to target the Los Angeles Pride Festival was also arrested this weekend.

Ting said:

“We luckily avoided a tragedy in Los Angeles but relying on luck is no way to run a state. … By passing comprehensive gun safety laws, we can prevent mass shootings in California.”

The legislation includes Assembly Bill 1664, which would remove a loophole in the state assault weapon ban that allows for a “bullet button” on guns allowing the rapid changing of ammunition magazines, and Assembly Bill 1673, which would prevent the sale of “ghost guns,” or parts and components that can be easily reassembled.

The package also includes Assembly Bill 1674, which limits the purchase of long guns to one per month, Assembly Bill 1695, which adds penalties for those who falsely report guns as lost or stolen, and Assembly Bill 2607, which would make it easier for mental health professionals, employers or co-workers to seek restraining orders for people showing signs of high-risk behavior that would prevent them from obtaining or possessing firearms.

The lawmakers were joined by local officials including District Attorney George Gascón and supervisors Aaron Peskin, Norman Yee and Malia Cohen, as well as by members of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.

In addition, Zahra Billoo, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations’ San Francisco Bay Area Office, appeared in support of the legislation.

Billoo said she and others in the Muslim community were horrified by the shooting and urged local Muslims to attend vigils, donate blood and show support for the victims. She noted that in some ways the Orlando shooting, which may have been motivated in part by Muslim extremism or by homophobia, was complicated.

Billoo said:

“At the same time, it’s really simple. … People should not have access to weapons that dangerous, period.”

Legislators at the national level have allowed a federal assault rifle ban to expire and failed to pass new gun laws after previous mass shootings around the nation, leaving state legislators to act on their own.

Chiu said:

“What we are trying to do in California is lead the way. … If you look at the history of mass shootings in California, the common thread is not the ethnicity of the shooters or the victims, but the weapons.”