California's Senate Public Safety Committee voted Tuesday to ban semi-automatic rifles that can be rapidly reloaded.
The decision followed more than three hours of emotional testimony — from people for and against the ban.
Senate Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) told lawmakers his bill, SB 374 closes a loophole in California’s assault weapons ban that dealers have exploited. Steinberg said they’re selling people semi-automatic rifles with detachable magazines that can be easily reloaded.
“Common sense and mathematics tells us that that individual is able to spray that gun and shoot more bullets than a gun that does not have a detachable magazine,” Steinberg said.
Paulette Brown of San Francisco urged lawmakers to support the proposed ban, as she clutched two pictures of her son, Aubrey Abrakasa, and wept. One picture showed the smiling 17-year old posing for a school portrait, the other his lifeless body on a gurney after he was shot 30 times.
“This is my boy, and I love him, and I miss him and I need something done about this! I’m tired of hurting,” Brown sobbed.
Many of the people who, like Brown, testified in favor of the ban believe it will save lives.
But Rob Young doesn’t think so. He was in the first grade at a Stockton elementary school in 1989 when a young man named Patrick Purdy emptied his AK47 on the playground.
“Purdy opened fire on us while we played.” Young recalled. “He managed to end the lives of five of my classmates and shot 27 others, including myself. I had a bullet lodge in my foot and another lodged in the left side of my chest after hitting the pavement in front of me.”
Young said people who hear his story assume he would support gun control.
“However, throughout the years since the shooting," said Young, "I’ve never blamed the firearm Purdy used to do his dirty deed.”
Young, who’s now a police officer, said criminals don’t obey gun bans. He believes the best way to make communities safer is to allow law-abiding people to adequately defend themselves.
Senator Steinberg said his bill allows law-abiding people to own semi-automatic rifles — so long as they hold no more than 10 rounds.
The bill is part of a package of eight measures Senate Democrats have dubbed the LIFE Act, all of which advanced in proceedings that lasted well into the evening.
Those include restrictions on high capacity magazines, bullet buttons and certain types of shotguns. Some of the bills increase oversight of gun ownership and ammunition purchases.
The Senate Public Safety committee also approved a bill that will boost funding for the Department of Justice to confiscate guns from 20,000 people who are prohibited from owning them.