Tehachapi

California Democrats push wide-ranging gun control bills

California Democrats push wide-ranging gun control bills
Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, left, and Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, listen as members call for the passage of Steinberg's measure to outlaw rifles with detachable magazines, while appearing before the Senate Public Safety Committee in Sacramento, Calif., Tuesday, April 16, 2013. Steinberg's bill, SB374, is one of seven bills that Senate Democrats have proposed to tighten California's already strict gun control laws. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Democrats in the California Senate said Tuesday that they will use their majority to advance seven bills that would tighten the state's already strict gun control laws.

One of the bills, which were receiving their initial hearings in a legislative committee, would ban the sale of any semi-automatic rifle that accepts detachable ammunition magazines. Some of the proposals, including a ban on possessing magazines holding more than 10 bullets, would apply to current gun owners as well as those who buy weapons in the future.

The legislation comes in the aftermath of the mass shootings in Newtown, Conn., and Aurora, Colo.

"We simply can't wait until the next tragedy before taking action," Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa told the Senate Public Safety Committee. "You have the opportunity ... to make California a leader again" in restricting weapons and ammunition.

New York and Connecticut already have passed tough gun and ammunition bans this year.

Supporters of gun rights planned a noon rally opposing the legislation, while gun control proponents turned in more than 31,000 signatures backing the bills.

Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, estimated that about 355 Californians and 3,300 victims nationwide have died from gun violence since the Newtown, Conn., school massacre in December. He is carrying one of the bills, SB374, which would outlaw rifles with detachable magazines.

Other bills in the package would:

— Make it more difficult to rapidly reload weapons with high-capacity magazines.

— Add a combination shotgun-rifle to the state's list of prohibited weapons.

— Require background checks for all gun owners.

— Require ammunition buyers to undergo a background check and get a permit.

— Require more training for gun buyers.

— And add new crimes to the list of those that disqualify Californians from owning weapons.

"The laws have loopholes and gaps that the manufacturers have exploited," Steinberg said, enabling them to sell military-style assault weapons in California despite previous efforts.

He said the legislative package proposed by Senate Democrats would close those loopholes. The seven bills are among at least 30 measures that have been introduced this year related to guns and ammunition.