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CBS 5 Report Inspires New Legislation To Ban 'Bullet Button'

SACRAMENTO (CBS 5) - The debate over California's strict gun control laws is about to heat up in Sacramento and it's all because of what we reported a few weeks ago.

"When I saw the news I was absolutely horrified," said State Senator Leland Yee, referring to a CBS5 report about the so-called bullet button.

It's a modification that enables the magazine of a semi-automatic rifle to be removed quickly, with the tip of a bullet. Removable magazines in combination with other features like a pistol grip and telescoping stock are banned under California law. But the bullet button is legal because it doesn't work with your finger, so the magazine is considered "fixed."

The modification has allowed military style rifles like the AR-15 to proliferate in the state, something Senator Yee said has got to stop.

"It is extremely important that individuals in the state of California do not own assault weapons. I mean that is just so crystal clear, there is no debate, no discussion," said Yee.

That's why the Senator is introducing a bill to ban the bullet button.

"What I am proposing is to essentially prevent any mechanism that would allow the conversion of an assault weapon into a way that you can fire these magazines upon magazines without effort," he said.

The senator's bill is already in the cross-hairs of the Calguns Foundation, the state's leading gun rights group.

"I am not sure the Legislature has an appetite to bite off something so large," said Calguns President Gene Hoffman, the creator of the bullet button. "The real reason I designed it was because the original kind of ways to create AR-15s that were California legal were actually quite dangerous on the range."

He said if a magazine is fixed, which is how California law requires it to be, bullets can jam.

"So the nice thing about the bullet button is that it allows you to remove the magazine and clear the jam," he said, arguing that it essentially makes them easier to handle.  "They they are lightweight, easy to shoot for women. It's more accurate."

Since AR-15s have become the most popular selling firearm in America, he argues they're now protected under the constitution.

"The reason the second amendment was put into the Bill of Rights is because General Gage wanted to take the Bostonians' firearms. If Leland Yee wants to be General Gage it will be an interesting outcome," said Hoffman.

Senator Yee said he's ready for battle.

"It's never going to be easy, but by the end of the day we are here in Sacramento to protect the general public and I think that is my priority," said Yee.

Senator Yee plans to introduce his bill on Monday. As we did when we originally reported this story, we asked the State Department of Justice for comment on the issue. Once again they declined.

(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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