The Free Press, Mankato, MN

State, national news

December 19, 2013

California gun owners warily eye rifle, shotgun database requirement

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“You wonder, what does this information mean?” said Stewart, a 55-year-old paralegal who lives in Grass Valley. “My ultimate concern is if someone knocks on my door and says you’ve got three guns, we need two of them.”

Other reactions among gun advocates range from bewildered to disturbed.

“This is the one that sends the tremor, that reaches every owner in the state,” said Sam Paredes, executive director of Gun Owners of California. “It is the one that scares us the most.”

Supporters of the legislation said it closes a dangerous gap in California’s gun laws, creating uniformity in firearms regulations by treating pistols and rifles the same.

“One of the things the Legislature found persuasive is that long guns play a large role in our state’s epidemic of gun violence,” said Juliet Leftwich, legal director for the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, one of AB 809’s sponsors.

Dozens of police chiefs backed the bill as an addition to their law enforcement arsenal. They said it will bolster efforts to trace guns recovered at crime scenes and to seize guns from people legally barred from owning them because of past crimes or mental illness. Officials will have more comprehensive gun purchase data to compare against California’s Armed and Prohibited Persons list, a catalog of people banned from owning guns that the Legislature fortified with an extra $24 million this year.

It will also help protect officers conducting criminal investigations by informing them of the type of firepower they might encounter, said Fairfield police Chief Walt Tibbet.

“Currently the one area we are very vulnerable in is trying to understand the availability of long guns, and more and more we’re seeing suspects with either rifles or sawed-off rifles,” Tibbet said.

“It’s not our intent to take guns away from law-abiding citizens,” he added. “I’m trying to keep my officers from being shot.”

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