Sacramento – Today, Assembly Bill 169 authored by Assemblymember Roger Dickinson (D-Sacramento) was approved on a 5-2 vote by the Senate Public Safety Committee. The bill would close the loophole in law that currently allows the private party transfer of “unsafe handguns” to individuals not eligible to buy them. It further closes a loophole that presently allows some buyers to purchase an unsafe handgun if that handgun was previously modified to be a single shot weapon.
“AB 169 will keep non-rostered, unsafe handguns out of the hands of people who don't have a legitimate and lawful reason to own them. By limiting the guns available for sale we can further protect our families and our communities from gun violence,” said Dickinson.
The California Department of Justice maintains a roster of handguns that are safe to operate under California law. These guns meet all statutory safety standards, and pass safety tests such as the drop test. Handguns not on the roster (i.e. non-rostered handguns), also known as unsafe handguns, are handguns most people cannot buy from a manufacturer through a licensed dealer.
However, current law has exemptions for a number of specified parties such as law enforcement, curio and relic dealers, gunsmiths, and movie prop houses. The law also allows private parties who legally own an unsafe handgun to sell these weapons to any other private party though a licensed dealer. These exemptions have permitted a nearly free trade of unsafe handguns, making current restrictions under the law practically meaningless.
AB 169 would close this loophole. The bill prohibits a person who is now exempted from the ban on buying or selling an unsafe handgun, and acquires a handgun that is not on the safe handgun roster, from selling or transferring ownership of the handgun to a person who is not similarly exempted.
AB 169 also closes another loophole that allows anyone to purchase an unsafe handgun if that handgun was modified to be a single shot weapon before the buyer took delivery from a licensed dealer. This single shot modification is easily undone, and the loophole provides an easy way for anyone to circumvent the law.
On June 1, 2012, the US Attorney’s office revealed the indictment of two Sacramento County sheriff's deputies accused of operating an illegal gun trade in the Sacramento area and illegally selling dozens of weapons – some to criminals (more info). And on August 28, 2012, one of the former Sacramento County Sheriff's Deputies pleaded guilty in federal court to dealing in firearms without a license (more info).
According to the FBI, California had the highest number of total gun deaths out of any state last year, accounting for 68% of all gun murders in the United States. In the U.S., 32 men, women, and children are murdered every day with guns. In California, over 7,700 people are shot every year. U.S. homicide rates are 6.9 times higher than rates in 22 other populous high-income countries combined.
Dickinson authored a similar bill last year, AB 2460, which was vetoed by the Governor. AB 169 is supported by the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, among others. The bill will next be heard in the Senate Appropriations Committee.
Contact: Taryn Kinney, (916) 319-2007