Brown vetoes bill banning some semi-automatic rifles

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California Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed a bill Friday that would have banned future sales of most semi-automatic rifles that accept detachable magazines, part of a firearms package approved by state lawmakers in response to mass shootings in other states.

The governor announced signing other gun-related legislation but rejected the centerpiece bill, which would have imposed the nation's toughest restrictions on gun ownership.

INTERACTIVE: Exploring California statehouse gun legislation

Brown's veto message for SB374 said it was too far-reaching. The bill by Democratic Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg would have outlawed future sales of an entire class of weapons that includes most assault rifles.

It was lawmakers' latest attempt to close loopholes that have allowed manufacturers to work around previous assault weapon bans. Gun rights groups had threatened to sue if the semi-automatic weapons ban became law.

"I don't believe that this bill's blanket ban on semi-automatic rifles would reduce criminal activity or enhance public safety enough to warrant this infringement on gun owners' rights," the Democratic governor wrote in his veto message.

He also noted that California already has some of the nation's strictest gun and ammunition laws. Steinberg's office did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The bill seeking to ban the sale of semi-automatic rifles went too far by also attempting to ban low-capacity weapons commonly used for hunting, firearms training and target shooting, along with some historical and collectible firearms, Brown said. He also objected because hundreds of thousands of legal gun owners would have to register their existing weapons as assault rifles and could never sell or transfer the weapons if it became law.

The governor's actions were a mixed bag for both gun rights groups and those seeking greater restrictions.

He signed a measure from Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley, which bans kits that allow people to turn regular ammunition magazines into high-capacity magazines.

Skinner praised the governor's decision, saying: "In almost every single mass shooting circumstance, either an assault weapon, or one that's been modified to work like one is used."

But Sam Peredes of the group Gun Owners of California said this and other recent legislation infringes on the rights of gun owners: "We know that the people who are fervently working to pass all these bills, their goal is to ban the private possession of firearms."

Brown also signed two other pieces of legislation, which restrict the ability of mentally ill people to possess firearms.

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