Legislation to require ammunition buyers in California to purchase annual permits was unveiled today, one of a series of bills surfacing in the aftermath of last week's Connecticut schoolhouse massacre.
"I, for one, have had it," Sen. Kevin de León said in emphasizing his commitment to keep tragedies like that at Sandy Hook Elementary School from ever happening in California.
De León's proposal would require ammunition buyers to acquire an annual permit and undergo a background check. The permit is expected to cost about $50.
California currently requires people to own a permit in order to hunt or fish, but it places no conditions on the purchase of unlimited amounts of ammunition, he said.
Online ammunition purchasers, under de León's proposal, would be required to pick up the merchandise at a retail business, such as a bait shop. A thumbprint and identification would have to be provided, de León said.
The Los Angeles Democrat conceded that his bill would not prevent Californians from traveling to Nevada, Oregon, Washington or other states to purchase large amounts of ammunition.
But de León said his bill could serve as a national model. He plans to contact lawmakers in neighboring states to tighten their laws. And it's important for California to do whatever it can to keep weapons from unstable people, he said.
"There's nothing more important than our children's lives," de Leon said.
Numerous other gun-related bills are expected to be introduced by California legislators in coming days or weeks.
Gun groups have complained for many years that the Democrat-controlled Legislature is bent on creating obstacles to their exercising the U.S. Constitution's Second Amendment right to bear arms.
Democratic Sen. Leland Yee said he will reintroduce legislation, sidetracked last year, that would ban devices allowing ammunition to be reloaded so quickly that semiautomatic firearms can be fired almost like assault weapons.
Yee said he also will introduce bills to:
Require Californians to use the gun locks they already are required to possess. Under his bill, if children were spotted with their parents' gun, for example, police could take for failure to properly lock it. Penalties have not yet been specified.
Require gun owners to renew their registration annually, which would require submittal of a thumbprint and a background check in an attempt to discover recent mental, criminal or other relevant issues.
Yee said the Connecticut massacre has "awakened everyone in America."
"When you see the pictures of those young children, 6 years old, any human being has to cry out and say, 'Why does this happen?" he said.
"Look I am respectful of the Second Amendment," he added. "But I don't believe it says you ought to have semiautomatic weapons to spray a school and kill innocent kids."