California Senate Passes Comprehensive New Gun Control Legislation

At the center of the debate was the issue of the "bullet button loophole."

— -- The California State Senate passed a comprehensive series of new legislation aimed at curbing gun violence today, according to a press release from Senate President Pro Tempore Kevin de León.

The package of bills, which de León called "common sense," is now en route to the Assembly, who will vote on the bills as well. If approved, the package will then go to the governor.

“Public safety is a fundamental responsibility of government and this Legislature will not shirk its responsibility, no matter how difficult the issue,” de León said in the press release. “These proposals take common sense steps to keep weapons and ammunition out of the hands of criminals and empower law enforcement to better serve and protect our communities.”

The package of bills the Senate voted on are aimed at tightening gun restrictions in the state that already has some of the strictest gun control in the country. One of the central aspects of the voting today was the issue of 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," State Assemblymember David Chiu of California's 17th District explained in a press release.

Sen. Isadore Hall, III -- who co-authored Senate Bill 880, one of the bills voted on today -- said that the bill "closes the 'bullet button loophole' by redefining assault weapons to include military-style semi-automatic firearms with the capacity to accept a detachable magazine, requiring such weapons to be registered with the Department of Justice and prohibiting the future sale, purchase or possession of such weapons in California."

"For years, gun owners have been able to circumvent California’s assault weapon laws by using a small tool to quickly eject and reload ammunition magazines. These types of modifications have no legitimate use for sport hunters or competitive shooters. They are designed only to facilitate the maximum destruction of human life," Hall continued, "Such weapons have been used in a number of recent gun attacks including the recent terrorist attack in San Bernardino that left 14 Californians dead and 21 injured."

The legislation was endorsed by Attorney General Kamala D. Harris, who said in a statement yesterday, "An epidemic of gun violence has cost too many Californians their lives and jeopardized public safety for too long. As California's chief law enforcement officer, I see the urgent need to pass sensible gun safety legislation that aims to keep our streets and communities safe."

Pro-gun groups, including the NRA-ILA and the Firearms Policy Coalition, see this new legislation as an attack on Second Amendment rights and have urged gun owners to contact their local politicians.