Assembly Bill 1663 Would Require Semi-Automatic Rifles to Have Fixed Ammunition Magazines, Making it Harder to Reload a Weapon during a Mass Shooting
San Francisco, CA—Assemblymember David Chiu (D-San Francisco) and Attorney General Kamala D. Harris and gun safety advocates today proposed a bill that would strengthen California’s existing assault weapons ban and close the “bullet button” loophole. Assembly Bill 1663, which is co-authored by Assemblymembers Marc Levine (D-Marin County), Phil Ting (D-San Francisco), and Rob Bonta (D-Oakland), would require semi-automatic rifles sold or transferred in California to be manufactured with ammunition magazines that cannot be detached. Fixed magazines prevent the rapid reloading that increases the lethality of horrific mass shootings like the one in San Bernardino last December.
“We must close the loopholes in our assault weapons ban so that guns like the ones used in San Bernardino, Newtown, and Aurora cannot be bought legally in our state,” said Assemblymember David Chiu (D-San Francisco), who worked on gun legislation as a United States Senate aide in the mid-1990s. “Detachable magazines cost lives, and it is more important to save lives during future mass shootings than to be able to reload assault weapons in the blink of an eye. I appreciate the sponsorship by Attorney General Harris and look forward to working this year with my colleagues, the Governor’s office, and advocates on this and other efforts to prevent gun violence.”
AB 1663 will effectively close the “bullet button” loophole. This loophole enables a firearm owner to use a bullet or other pointed object to quickly detach and replace a weapon’s ammunition magazine, converting a semi-automatic rifle into an assault weapon. An individual can switch magazines on a gun with a bullet button within seconds, making them especially deadly in a mass shooting situation. Firearms with bullet buttons were among the guns used in the San Bernardino shooting late last year.
“The devastation wrought by gun violence on innocent victims, children and families in this country is an international embarrassment,” said Attorney General Kamala Harris. “This is a common sense solution that closes a dangerous loophole in California’s assault weapons ban. We simply must do everything we can to keep dangerous, high capacity firearms off of our streets and out of our communities.”
California passed the first assault weapons ban in the nation, the Roberti-Ross Assault Weapons Control Act (AWCA), in 1989 following a mass shooting in a Stockton, California schoolyard that killed 5 children and wounded 29 children and one teacher. Over the years, the California legislature has expanded and strengthened the AWCA. Although California has some of the strictest gun laws in country, gun manufacturers have become experts in exploiting loopholes. This legislation aims to end that practice.
"Killing machines have no place on our streets and gun violence must not be tolerated," said Assemblymember Marc Levine, (D-Marin County), a co-author of AB 1663 who today introduced AB 1664, a complementary piece of legislation banning bullet buttons. "This legislation assures that gun manufacturers cannot work around the intent of California's ban on military-style assault weapons. We raise our children in communities, not war zones."
“Mass shootings have become routine, almost daily occurrences across the country,” said Assemblymember Phil Ting (D-San Francisco), a co-author of AB 1663 and a joint author of AB 1664. “This bill offers a rational solution to a common threat facing our communities. Shooters use military-style weaponry because it enables them to kill as many innocent people as fast as they can. It’s time to stop the carnage.”
Long-standing members of the gun safety community echoed the need to address these loopholes and protect everyday citizens from gun violence.
“We applaud Assemblymember Chiu for introducing this important legislation to strengthen and simplify California’s assault weapons ban,” said Juliet Leftwich, Legal Director of the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. “Our organization was formed in the wake of the assault weapons massacre at 101 California Street, which left eight dead and six wounded, so we know all too well how deadly these weapons can be and how determined gun manufacturers are to find ways to circumvent the law. We also commend the Attorney General for sponsoring this lifesaving bill.”
“Since California’s first assault weapons law was passed in 1989 in the wake of the tragic Stockton schoolyard shooting, we have struggled to make it real in the face of the gun industry’s determination to find new ways to evade the law’s intent,” said Amanda Wilcox, Legislation & Policy Chair of the California Chapters of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. “ We support these efforts by Assemblymembers Chiu, Levine and Ting to definitely close the loopholes in a manner that will prevent the firearms industry from continuing to sell these lethal military-style weapons in our state. Curbing the ability to rapidly reload will decrease the lethality in future mass shootings and save lives.”
Voices for Strengthening California’s Assault Weapons Ban
"I wholeheartedly support these proposals to get battlefield weapons off our streets and close loopholes that have been exploited by the firearms industry for too long, at the expense of too many lives," said Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom. "It's vital that we work together, in every arena, against a powerful gun lobby in order to reduce the gun violence epidemic.” --Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom
“Gun violence has become an epidemic in our country that requires immediate and decisive action at all levels of government,” said San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee. “On a local level, San Francisco has some of the toughest gun laws in America, and keeping high-powered firearms off of our City’s streets continues to be a top priority for my administration. This bill strengthens our ban on assault weapons and discourages lethal military style weapons from ending up in the hands of civilians. Weapons of war have no place on our City streets, and I thank Assemblymember David Chiu, Attorney General Kamala Harris, Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom, and other State leaders for taking a stand to reduce gun violence and keep all of our residents safe.” --San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee
“How many more massacres need to happen before we start doing something serious about gun safety? I thank Assemblymember Chiu for introducing this legislation. He has my full support.” --London Breed, President of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors
“Our country has an epidemic of gun violence and we need to make it harder to obtain guns whose only purpose is to shoot people. I applaud Assemblymember Chiu and Attorney General Harris’s leadership in taking the bold action necessary to prevent more gun violence in California.” --Scott Wiener, San Francisco Supervisor
“2016 is just 2 weeks old and yet there have been already 436 gun deaths in America this year. That means for every day of this new year, 31 people have lost their lives to gun violence. Every day is a mass shooting when you look at those numbers. Every day is a San Bernardino, an Aurora, a Sandy Hook. We deserve to live in a world where mass killings are only read about in history books, not in today’s paper.” --Jane Kim, San Francisco Supervisor
"Some of the most horrific mass shootings have taken place on college campuses," said City College Trustee Alex Randolph. "The safety of our staff, faculty, and students is a top priority and concern. This bill seeks to minimize the risk of these shootings and is long overdue. I am proud to join Assemblymember Chiu here today and support this common-sense legislation." --Alex Randolph, City College of San Francisco Trustee
“Our faith community was deeply affected by the mass shooting at AME in South Carolina last year. Gun violence affects all of us but especially communities of color,” said Dr. Aurelious Walker of True Hope Church in San Francisco. “I applaud Assemblymember Chiu for addressing this issue to prevent future tragedies.” --Dr. Arelious Walker, Pastor at True Hope Church in San Francisco