SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed a bill Friday that would have imposed the nation's toughest gun ownership restrictions on Californians, saying it was too far-reaching.
The legislation would have banned future sales of most semi-automatic rifles that accept detachable magazines, part of a firearms package approved by state lawmakers in response to mass shootings in other states.
It was lawmakers' latest attempt to close loopholes that have allowed manufacturers to work around previous assault weapon bans. Gun rights groups had threatened to sue if the semi-automatic weapons ban became law.
"I don't believe that this bill's blanket ban on semi-automatic rifles would reduce criminal activity or enhance public safety enough to warrant this infringement on gun owners' rights," the Democratic governor wrote in his veto message.
He also noted that California already has some of the nation's strictest gun and ammunition laws.
The legislation was among 18 gun bills considered by the governor as he works toward a Sunday deadline to act on bills sent to his desk last month. He signed 11 firearms bills into law and vetoed seven.
Democratic Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, who proposed the rifle restrictions, said in a statement that more than 1,100 Californians have been killed with guns since the mass school shooting in Newtown, Conn., in December.
"I believe aggressive action is precisely what's needed to reduce the carnage in our communities, and to counter the equally aggressive action by the gun industry," Steinberg said.
The bill sought to ban the sale of assault rifles, but Brown objected that it also would have applied to low-capacity weapons commonly used for hunting, firearms training and target shooting, and some historical and collectible firearms. Brown also didn't want thousands of legal gun owners to have to register their existing weapons as assault rifles and be blocked from selling or transferring the weapons.
"That was, without a doubt, the most egregious piece of anti-gun legislation ever brought to a governor for his signature," said Clint Montfort, an attorney with Michel and Associates, West Coast counsel for the National Rifle Association. "We appreciate that the governor has respected the rights of California gun owners."
Montfort said the NRA is examining the bills that Brown did sign to see if any merit legal challenges.
The governor signed a measure from Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley, which bans kits that allow people to turn regular ammunition magazines into high-capacity magazines, as well as two other pieces of legislation that restrict the ability of mentally ill people to possess firearms.
Brown approved a measure making California the first state to impose a statewide ban on lead bullets for all types of hunting. Hunting with lead bullets already is prohibited in eight counties with endangered California condors. About two dozen states also have partial bans, mostly in sensitive wildlife refuges.
But Brown rejected a bill that would have required owners whose firearms are lost or stolen to promptly notify law enforcement. The governor noted he vetoed a similar bill last year and still doubts that criminalizing the failure to report missing weapons would help law enforcement track down gun traffickers or those prohibited from owning weapons.
Nick Wilcox, whose daughter was killed by a gunman during a 2001 Nevada County rampage, said he was hopeful Brown would have approved more.
"It's a step forward. It's not as big a step forward as we would have liked," Wilcox said on behalf of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.
Paul Song, executive chairman of the Courage Campaign, an advocacy organization that supported the gun bills, said in a telephone interview that Brown appeared to be trying to defuse a possible campaign issue as he runs for re-election next year. The organization later released a much stronger statement accusing the governor of "cowardly behavior" and saying he "will have blood on his hands."
Sam Paredes, executive director of Gun Owners of California, said gun owners' rights groups will consider mounting recall campaigns or election-year challenges against Democratic lawmakers who voted for the gun bills. Final votes on the legislation occurred last month, just as two Colorado state lawmakers were recalled for supporting tougher gun laws in that state.
Paredes predicted lawsuits challenging bills that require safe storage of handguns, Skinner's high-capacity magazine bill, and legislation requiring that buyers of rifles and shotguns pass a safety test.
Still, he said, "We were only shot in the heart six times instead of 12 times, and I guess we should be happy with that."
Also on HuffPost:
It Spends A Huge Amount Of Money On Lobbying
The National Rifle Association spent between <a href="http://www.policymic.com/articles/11823/james-eagan-holmes-gun-control-debate-nra-still-has-the-numbers-and-the-money" target="_blank">$1.5 million and $2.7 million on federal-level lobbying efforts between 2001 and 2010</a>, and an additional $7.2 million supporting candidates during the 2010 election, according to Policymic. Gun manufacturers themselves have contributed <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/11/nra-gun-control-firearms-industry-ties_n_2434142.html" target="_blank">up to $38.9 million to the NRA</a> since 2005.
It Profits From Tragedies
After both the <a href="http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2012-07-24/colorado-gun-sales-surge-after-the-aurora-massacre" target="_blank">Aurora</a> and <a href="http://thinkprogress.org/justice/2013/03/07/1683771/gun-manufacturer-profits/" target="_blank">Newtown</a> massacres, the gun industry saw huge increases in sales.
It Pushes Military-Style Weapons
Faced with a dwindling generation of hunters, the <a href="http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/the-gun-industrys-deadly-addiction-20130228" target="_blank">gun industry has actively promoted military-style weapons</a>, according to Rolling Stone. While sales of hunting style firearms have fallen to just a quarter of the total market, sales of assault rifles and handguns have surged.
Gun Control Legislation Has Passed Many Times Before
The debate over gun control is hardly new. <a href="http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2013/02/12/in-america-some-say-guns-are-in-our-dna-but-is-history-on-the-side-of-gun-rights-or-gun-control/" target="_blank">Gun control legislation has been passed in 1927, 1934, 1968, 1986, 1993 and 1994</a>, according to The Blaze.
It Doesn't Represent Most Americans
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/16/gun-control-poll_n_2486116.html" target="_blank">Recent polls</a> have repeatedly shown that <a href="http://tv.msnbc.com/2013/04/03/morning-joe-poll-support-for-gun-control/" target="_blank">most Americans support stricter gun control.</a> However, the <a href="http://www.nbcchicago.com/blogs/ward-room/NRA-Anti-Gun-Poll-Results-Dont-Matter-202356331.html" target="_blank">NRA's chief lobbyist in Illinois</a> said that gun control poll results should have no impact on whether laws should change, NBC Chicago reports.
It Makes A LOT Of Guns
Over the last 25 years, <a href="http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2013/03/26/guns-at-a-glance-the-top-commercial-firearms-makers-in-america/" target="_blank">100 million guns have been made in the United States</a>, The Blaze reports. In 2011 alone, the <a href="http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2013/03/26/nr-draft-how-important-are-guns-to-the-u-s-economy-for-starters-the-firearms-industry-employs-twice-as-many-americans-as-bailed-out-gm/" target="_blank">U.S. firearms industry manufactured over 8 million guns</a>. Compare that to the only <a href="http://www.reuters.com/article/2007/08/28/us-world-firearms-idUSL2834893820070828" target="_blank">6 million guns that were manufactured worldwide</a> in 2007.
It Fears The Zombie Apocalypse
Gun manufacturers have been accused of using marketing ploys such as hyping up <a href="http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/pictures/the-gun-industrys-nine-most-outrageous-marketing-ploys-20130228/this-is-not-a-toy-0089544" target="_blank">Zombie apocalypse fears to target new customers</a>, Rolling Stone reports. <a href="http://www.zombie-defense.com/photos.html" target="_blank">Zombie Defense</a>, for example, is an entire company dedicated to selling firearms customized for the inevitable event when dead humans come back to life and attempt to destroy the world.
President Obama Has Been Good To Them
Despite regular criticism of President Obama from the NRA and other pro-gun groups, Obama has actually <a href="http://www.time.com/time/politics/article/0,8599,2046592,00.html#ixzz1pDJ3yNPk" target="_blank">expanded gun rights</a> during his first term. Fear that <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/21/obama-greatest-gun-salesman-in-america_n_1291381.html" target="_blank">Obama will crack down on guns</a> has actually led to big revenue increases for gun manufacturers, prompting some to ironically call him <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/12/20/obama-gun-stimulus-twitter_n_2338563.html" target="_blank">"the greatest gun salesman in America."</a>
It Will Accessorize To Attract Women
Women remain a largely untapped demographic for the gun industry, which is why manufacturers have recently stepped up <a href="http://www.sfgate.com/nation/article/For-gun-industry-women-a-major-market-4267485.php" target="_blank">efforts to attract new female customers</a>. Apparently this <a href="http://www.gungoddess.com/ar-15-pink-stock-set/" target="_blank">pink assault rifle stock set (pictured) from GunGoddess.com</a> is one way the industry hopes to entice women to buy guns. "My intention with offering these products is to encourage women to discover the enjoyment they can get from shooting and the shooting sports, while at the same time not losing sight of the most important goal - taking responsibility for their own protection and learning critical self defense skills," Athena Means, owner of GunGoddess.com, wrote The Huffington Post in an email.
NRA Members Support Background Checks
A 2012 poll revealed that <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/11/nra-gun-control-firearms-industry-ties_n_2434142.html" target="_blank">74 percent of NRA members support mandatory background checks</a> for all gun purchases, despite the organization's public opposition of such measures, according to The Huffington Post.
It Wants Your Children
<a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/27/us/selling-a-new-generation-on-guns.html?hp" target="_blank">Gun manufacturers have stepped up efforts to market to children</a> by donating to youth groups, sponsoring youth events and advertising military style rifles directly to younger shooters, according to The New York Times.
It Breaks Promises
Smith & Wesson signed a pact with the Clinton administration to cease making weapons that hold more than 10 bullet magazines. It later <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/12/21/smith-wesson-clinton-bush-nra_n_2348503.html" target="_blank">broke that agreement when profits plummeted</a>, The Huffington Post reports. A request for comment from Smith & Wesson was not returned.
The Second Amendment Didn't Used To Apply To Individuals
While the Second Amendment does indeed say that "the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed,” that was <a href="http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/comment/2012/12/jeffrey-toobin-second-amendment.html" target="_blank">historically interpreted as the right of militias to do so</a>, according to The New Yorker. It was not until a 2008 Supreme Court ruling, commonly referred to as the Heller decision, that the individual right to bear arms was guaranteed under federal law. <em>This slide has been updated to include additional information about the Heller decision.</em>
It Picks Losers
At over $1 million, the <a href="http://www.opensecrets.org/industries/indus.php?ind=Q13" target="_blank">NRA donated more money to Mitt Romney</a> than it did to any other individual in 2011 to 2012, according to Open-Secrets.com.
One Of Its CEOs May Threaten To Kill You
James Yeager, CEO of weapons training company Tactical response, infamously threatened to <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/10/james-yeager-start-killing-people-obama-gun-policy_n_2448751.html" target="_blank">"start killing people"</a> over the debate on gun control before <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/15/james-yeager-tactical-response_n_2478594.html" target="_blank">ultimately apologizing</a>.