Inland Regional Center

Flowers and American flags honoring the victims of the San Bernardino attack a few days after the assault are placed outside the Inland Regional Center where the fatal shooting took place. (Nick Ut / Associated Press)

Patrick McGreevy
May 19, 2016

The state Senate on Thursday approved sweeping new restrictions on using guns in California in response to the December mass shooting by two terrorists that left 14 dead in San Bernardino.

Lawmakers approved 11 bills including measures mandating background checks for Californians buying ammunition and outlawing the manufacture and sale of semiautomatic rifles with detachable magazines.

The bills, which next go to the Assembly for consideration, represent the most ambitious effort at gun control in decades in California, which already has some of the strictest gun laws in the nation.

Gun bills have traditionally had a harder time in the Assembly, but Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon said this week he is committed to pushing them through. The bills also must pass muster with Gov. Jerry Brown, who has vetoed some gun control measures in the past that he felt were overreaching.

“Gun violence has reached epidemic proportions across our nation,” Senate President Pro Tem Kevin De León (D-Los Angeles) told his colleagues. He said 30,000 people are killed by guns every year in the United States.

“We cannot stand by while our communities suffer from this horrific violence,” he said. “These proposals take common sense steps to keep weapons and ammunition out of the hands of criminals.”

Republican senators opposed all but one of the bills, arguing that criminals will find a way to get guns and ammunition despite the proposed new laws.

“The criminals will not be affected,” state Sen. Jim Nielsen of Gerber said during the floor debate. “They will not pay any attention to these bills. These bills disarm the law-abiding public.”

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