Gun control measure qualifies for November California ballot
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California voters will decide in November whether to tighten the state's already tough gun control laws after the secretary of state's office said a proposal exceeded the number signatures needed to qualify for the fall ballot on Thursday.
If voters approve, California would become the first state to require background checks at the point of sale for ammunition. Some other states already require buyers to get licenses and go through background checks ahead of time.
It would also streamline California's unique program that allows authorities to seize firearms from owners who bought guns legally but are no longer allowed to own them because they were later convicted of a felony or a violent misdemeanor, determined to be mentally unstable, or were the subject of a restraining order involving domestic violence.
Those people also would no longer be able to buy ammunition.
Gun owners would have to surrender large-capacity ammunition magazines. California already bans selling assault-style magazines holding more than 10 bullets, but current law lets those who possess the large-capacity magazines to keep them.
Owners would be required to report lost or stolen guns to law enforcement. And the measure would reverse part of a 2014 voter-approved initiative by making it a felony to steal any gun, no matter its value.
Newsom, a Democrat, is running for governor in 2018 on a platform that includes gun control and legalizing recreational marijuana.
"Enough massacres, death, tears, and hate - it's time to take action and save lives," Newsom said in a statement Thursday.
He said his proposal will give voters "the opportunity to keep guns and ammo out of the hands of violent, dangerous, hateful people. America has too many guns and too much hate. The result is the massacre in Orlando, and dozens of other gun deaths every single day."
Opponents have said the proposed restrictions would do little to stop gun deaths while making criminals of many law-abiding gun owners.
"Californians believe in more civil liberties, not fewer freedoms," Chuck Michel, co-chairman of The Coalition for Civil Liberties, said in a statement. "Gavin Newsom's political maneuver will be defeated because it does nothing to stop the next ISIS-inspired attack."
A Field Poll in January found 80 percent of Californians supporting background checks for buying ammunition and 58 percent favoring outlawing the possession of large-capacity magazines.
Newsom and Democratic lawmakers who control the state Legislature have been competing to pass gun control measures this year, though some of their proposals differ. Some Democrats fear Newsom's initiative will motivate supporters of gun-owners' rights in the November election.