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A California bill aimed at strengthening the state's assault weapons laws is gaining support from top Democrats in the wake of high-profile shootings in Colorado and Wisconsin.

Senate Bill 249, by Democratic Sen. Leland Yee, would ban weapons featuring easily detachable magazines, including "bullet buttons," that allow a shooter to quickly reload.

The San Francisco Democrat says the bill, introduced earlier this year and amended this week, clarifies an unintended loophole in state gun law.

The latest version of the legislation has won the backing of Attorney General Kamala Harris and other top Democrats.

Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, who has signed on as a co-author, affirmed his support for the legislation Monday, saying lawmakers "can't be afraid to do what is just plain common sense."

"I know that everyone is afraid of the strong lobby on the other side and I believe in the Second Amendment, I believe in the right of hunters to be able to fully participate in that sport, I believe that people ought to have the ability to have a gun in their home to protect themselves if that's what they desire, but no one will convince me it's anything other than a joke to say that having multiple clips and semi-automatic weapons that can shoot 100 or more bullets at a time is necessary in this state or in this country," the Sacramento Democrat said. "It's ridiculous."

The legislation is already facing opposition from pro-gun interests. The National Rifle Association says Yee's move to change the definition of an attachable magazine would render hundreds of thousands of firearms sold legally in the state illegal as of next year. The group called the bill the "worst gun confiscation threat in 20 years" in a release urging members to call lawmakers and voice opposition to the proposal.

The bill is scheduled to be heard by the Assembly Appropriations next week. It must clear both houses in the next four weeks to make it to Gov. Jerry Brown's desk by the end of session deadline.



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