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California senators propose tighter gun laws after Newtown shooting

December 18, 2012 12:00:00 AM PST
Less than a week after the mass shooting in Newtown, Conn., California lawmakers were beginning to discuss changing the state's gun laws.

State Sen. Kevin De Leon (D-Los Angeles) is proposing that California require all ammunition buyers to get an annual permit from the Department of Justice, which will fingerprint and perform background check to those who apply.

De Leon says in light of the shooting in Connecticut, he's determined to fight the powerful gun lobby.

"In honor of those victims and the thousands who have preceded them, we must not capitulate any longer. I, for one, have had it," he said.

State Sen. Leland Yee (D-San Francisco) re-introduced a bill that prohibits semiautomatic weapons from having bullet buttons, which allows the gun from being easily re-loaded with multiple rounds.

Gun Owners of California says these further restrictions are unconstitutional. They're challenging a previous bill by De Leon requiring stores to fingerprint customers who buy bullets for handguns.

"We don't have a gun problem in this country," Sam Paredes of Gun Owners of California said, "We have a people problem, a certain segment of people. And until we put a focus on dealing with things that would make a person go from normal to evil, we're going to continue to have these problems no matter what gun laws we have."

State Treasurer Bill Lockyer is taking a different tactic. Instead of more gun control laws, he's proposing to pressure gun manufacturers. Lockyer wants the state's biggest public pension funds, CalPERS and CalSTRS, to pull their investments in companies that make weapons that are illegal in California.

CalSTRS apparently has ownership interest in the firm that makes the Bushmaster assault rifle, which was one of the weapons used in Connecticut.

"They expose our communities, our families and our children to unnecessary violence," said Tom Dresslar of the California Treasurer's Office.

The pressure may already be working. The private equity group with a controlling stake in the firm that makes the Bushmaster said it is selling its share.


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