SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom is proposing a 2016 ballot initiative that would ask voters to strengthen the state's gun laws by restricting ammunition sales, requiring owners to turn in assault-style magazines that have a large capacity and requiring gun owners to report lost or stolen guns to law enforcement.
If adopted, the proposal Newsom planned to release Thursday would make California the first state in the nation to require background checks at the point of sale for ammunition, although other states require purchasers to obtain licenses and go through background checks ahead of time.
On Wednesday, Newsom tweeted some statistics about gun violence in the U.S.:
The proposal was drafted by Newsom, a candidate for California governor in 2018, and sponsored by the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. It comes in the wake of high-profile killings nationwide and three recent San Francisco Bay Area killings in which the shooters allegedly used stolen guns to commit the crimes.
The ballot initiative would ask voters to make five changes to state law:
- Eliminate the stockpile of now-banned large-capacity magazines with 11 rounds or more: Owners would be required to sell them to a licensed firearms dealer, take them out of state or turn them in to law enforcement to be destroyed. State law already bans manufacturing or selling magazines that hold more than 10 rounds.
- Background checks for ammunition purchases: Ammunition dealers would need to conduct a background check at the point-of-sale for all ammunition, and dealers would need a license similar to those required to sell firearms. Stores also would be required to report to law enforcement if ammunition has been lost or stolen.
- Reporting lost and stolen guns: California would join 11 other states in requiring that lost or stolen firearms be reported to law enforcement.
- Felons must relinquish weapons: California courts would set up a clear process to relinquish weapons. The authors say that more than 17,000 Californians who are prohibited from owning firearms currently have guns.
- Firearms database: The California Department of Justice would have to notify the federal instant criminal background check system when someone is added to the database of those prohibited from purchasing or possessing a firearm. California currently reports to the federal system voluntarily.
Polls have shown California voters are more generally more supportive of restricting access to guns than voters in other states.
A poll last month by the Public Policy Institute of California found that two-thirds of adults believe California's gun control laws should be stricter than they are now. It found that 57 percent of adults said controlling gun ownership is more important than protecting the right of Americans to own guns, while 40 percent said protecting gun ownership is more important.