Handgun safety bill sent to governor

Associated Press
Friday September 14, 2001

SACRAMENTO (AP) — State lawmakers sent to the governor Thursday a sweeping handgun bill that would require gun buyers to pass a written test and demonstrate to a safety instructor that they know how to operate the gun. 

The Senate bill by Sen. Jack Scott, D-Altadena, also would require handgun buyers to provide a thumb print, proof of residency, identification and a handgun safety certificate. 

The bill’s requirements would take effect Jan. 1, 2003. 

A second, identical bill was approved Wednesday by the Senate and is awaiting approval in the Assembly. Scott’s bill, which passed on a 23-13 vote in the Senate, was approved in the Assembly late Wednesday night by a 41-31 vote. 

The bill, supported by state sheriffs, police chiefs and the Police Officers Research Association, also requires handgun owners to renew the certificates after five years if they want to buy another handgun. 

“One of the requirements is you have to have the proficiency to handle these firearms,” Scott said. 

Sen. Maurice Johannessen, R-Redding, ridiculed the bill as he did an identical Assembly bill on Wednesday. 

Earlier in the week, he called the bills “foolishness,” and asked supporters if they “really believe this will stop criminals.” 

Gov. Gray Davis now has until Oct. 14 to sign the bill. 

He has vetoed gun bills in the past, saying he opposes new gun control laws until the impact of existing measures is studied by law enforcement. 

However, he strayed from that policy in July, signing legislation expanding prosecution of adult gun owners if children bring their weapons to school. He said at the time he made the exception in the wake of two school shootings this year in Southern California. 

Davis spokeswoman Hilary McLean said Davis has no formal position on the current legislation “but he’s definitely looking at them with an open mind.”