Sighting the Homemade Gun Threat


Last week, Law Center Executive Director Robyn Thomas and Michael McLively, one of our staff attorneys, published an article, “Sighting the Homemade Gun Threat” in the Daily Journal. Outlining two potential gun laws, Senate Bill 199 and Senate Bill 808, which Governor Brown signed and vetoed respectively, the article discusses the dangers of homemade guns and the impending threat of 3-D printed guns as they gain popularity. Originally published in both print and online, here is the article shared in full.

Sighting the Homemade Gun Threat

Gov. Jerry Brown made headlines last week by signing Assembly Bill 1014, a bill that will establish an innovative “Gun Violence Restraining Order” procedure in California. On the same day, two lesser-known bills, Senate Bill 199 and Senate Bill 808, were signed and vetoed by the governor, respectively, without generating much notice. Despite their relatively low profile, these bills deserve our attention as they provide interesting insights into some of the  critical gun issues we’ll be facing in California looking forward.

The Serious Danger of Homemade Guns

Last Tuesday, Brown vetoed SB 808, which was an initial attempt to regulate the serious threat posed by homemade firearms. The bill would have required all such guns to be registered with the California Department of Justice and given a serial number.

This would have been a small step in the right direction by giving state authorities a better idea of just how many homemade guns are out there, but much more needs to be done in order to effectively nip this growing menace in the bud. Brown’s veto of this bill provides an opportunity to revisit this issue afresh and to reconsider the best way to properly address this problem in 2015, before it is too late.

Homemade firearms come from two main sources: the assembly of what are known as “partial receivers,” and 3D printing. Each presents its own set of unique problems and concerns.

Partial Receivers

A partial receiver is a partially finished metal component that holds the basic mechanisms that allow a gun to operate. Partial receivers are not regulated federally or at the state level. They can be purchased without a background check and turned into a fully functioning firearm with a relatively cheap and simple mechanical process that takes only one to seven hours to complete.

Partial receivers provide a way for mass-murderers and other criminals to skirt California’s otherwise strong gun laws, including mandatory background checks and the state’s prohibition on assault weapons. Using a partial receiver allows a person to build a functional assault rifle in a matter of hours. A recent and devastating shooting in Santa Monica highlights this danger all too well. John Zawahri failed a gun-purchase background check before deciding to buy an unfinished receiver and assembling his own assault rifle, which he then used in a terrible attack that left five dead, including Zawahri.

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Governor Brown Signs Critical New Gun Legislation Continuing California’s Commitment to Gun Safety


California just got safer, and set some amazing records, too. On Friday, October 11th, California Governor Jerry Brown signed 10 new gun violence prevention bills — a record for the State of California and the largest number of strong gun bills signed into law by any state in the nation this year. We are proud to have worked with legislators and activists in California to support this crucial and groundbreaking new legislation.

In the bills signed into law, Governor Brown and the California Legislature have prioritized measures to promote gun safety and prevent prohibited people from accessing weapons. Here are only a few of the new, cutting-edge policies that will help keep our communities safe:

  • AB 500 will require gun owners living with people prohibited from possessing a firearms to store their weapons in a secure manner. That bill will also give the Department of Justice an additional 30 days to conduct a background check when needed to ensure that a gun buyer isn’t a convicted felon or otherwise prohibited from possessing firearms.
  • AB 231 will help prevent tragic accidents involving guns and children by expanding California’s child access prevention law to allow law enforcement to hold a gun owner liable if a weapon is left in a place where a child may gain access to it.
  • AB 48 will keep gun manufacturers from skirting California’s ban on large capacity ammunition magazines by banning “conversion kits,” which allow someone to make ordinary magazines into magazines capable of holding up to a hundred rounds of ammunition.

And these are only a few of the policies that Governor Brown just signed into law.

Although we are disappointed that the governor vetoed seven strong bills to prevent gun violence, we are extremely pleased with the historic progress otherwise made by the legislature this year. We are proud of the success California has seen implementing smart gun laws and encouraged that it continues to promote effective policies that can make our communities safer. In a year marked with a seemingly endless list of tragic shootings, Governor Brown has heard the voice of gun owners and non-gun owners alike — inaction on preventing gun violence is unacceptable.

For a summary of all of the gun violence prevention bills, visit our summary of 2013 California legislation to prevent gun violence.

For more on the drop in gun death rates in California, visit our publication, The California Model: Twenty Years of Putting Safety First.

New California laws prohibit the open carrying of unloaded rifles and shotguns and protect domestic violence victims

California has a history of enacting some of the strongest gun laws in the nation. This year, Governor Brown signed two new measures to improve upon the state’s laws by helping to protect Californians from gun violence in public and in their homes. On September 28th, the governor signed AB 1527. The new law prohibits the open carrying of unloaded rifles and shotguns in public.  After a similar measure banning the open carrying of unloaded handguns was enacted last year, members of the so-called “open carry movement” responded by openly carrying rifles and shotguns at shopping malls, beach areas and other crowded public places.  This activity greatly alarmed the public and law enforcement statewide, resulting in the new measure.  The open carrying of all firearms is now prohibited in public places in California. The Law Center supported both the handgun and long gun open carry bans.

One day later, Governor Brown signed SB 1433, which will help disarm domestic abusers.  This law will require certain courts that issue protective orders to cross-reference state firearm records to determine whether a domestic abuser owns a firearm. If records indicate that a batterer is also a gun owner, law enforcement must request that the firearms be relinquished when serving the protective order. The Law Center supported this measure. Abused women are five times more likely to be killed by their abusers if an abuser owns a firearm. Strong procedures to facilitate the relinquishment of firearms by domestic abusers are absolutely critical.

Want to see more success stories? You can find them here.

We’re Almost There! Our Priority Bill to Stop Illegal Gun Trafficking is on Governor Brown’s Desk

Your calls and emails paid off last week: the California Legislature heard you and passed our bill to curb illegal gun trafficking. But the work isn’t over yet.

We have been working all year on SB 1366, which would give law enforcement an important tool to fight the flow of illegal guns in California. The bill would require gun owners to report lost and stolen guns to the police — guns that are often trafficked into the hands of criminals.

This bill is now on Governor Brown’s desk and just one step away from becoming law.
We need your help NOW for this final, critical push.

Please call Governor Brown TODAY at (916) 445-2841 and tell him:

“I support SB 1366 because it gives law enforcement
what they need to fight gun trafficking!”

If the line is busy, you can click here to e-mail the governor with your message.
Be sure to select “SB01366\Firearms: lost or stolen: reports” under “Please Choose Your Subject” and select “Pro” for your position when prompted.

California is close to enacting this important bill into law. Your voice can help keep guns out of the wrong hands in our state.

Let’s ensure that Governor Brown makes the right decision to protect our communities.
Call or email him right now.

We have a deep amount of research on this topic. For more, read about the benefits of lost and stolen firearm reporting.

Major Victories in California: Governor Brown Signs Three Crucial Bills to Prevent Gun Violence!

The Law Center applauds California Governor Jerry Brown for signing three important pieces of legislation to help keep communities across California safe from gun violence. Governor Brown signed:

  • AB 809 (Feuer), co-sponsored by the Law Center, which will help law enforcement solve and prevent gun crimes by requiring the California Department of Justice to retain copies of sales records for rifles and shotguns, as it already does for handguns;
  • AB 144 (Portantino), which will prohibit the open carrying of unloaded handguns in public places statewide; and
  • SB 819 (Leno), which will enable the Department of Justice to use firearm sales fees to fund programs to disarm convicted criminals and the mentally ill

The governor’s signing of these three bills is a major victory for public safety in California. We commend Assemblymember Feuer, Assemblymember Portantino, and Senator Leno for their outstanding leadership on these critical issues, and we are grateful for the tireless efforts of our coalition partners statewide.

We also thank you, our members and supporters, for your calls to the Governor urging him to sign AB 809. Your voice makes a difference!

Your support helps ensure that California continues to lead the nation in strong laws to prevent gun violence.