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California Gun Sales Up Over 30% During First Six Months of 1999

Attorney General Says Department of Justice Will Be Prepared to Enforce New Gun Laws
Tuesday, September 28, 1999
Contact: (415) 703-5837

(Sacramento) – Attorney General Bill Lockyer today announced that gun sales in California during the first six months of 1999 increased more than thirty percent compared to the same period last year.

From January through June 1999, a total of 213,468 handguns and long guns (rifles and shotguns) were sold by firearms dealers in California. This represents a 30.9 percent increase over the 163,060 sold from January through June 1998. Sales of long guns increased 50.7 percent, from 66,764 sold in the first six months of 1998 to 100,593 sold in the first six months of 1999. Handgun sales increased 17.2 percent, from 96,296 sold in 1998 to 112,875 sold in 1999.

"The big increase so far this year is in the sale of long guns - rifles and shotguns - not in the sales of handguns traditionally used for home protection," said Lockyer.

So far in 1999, a total of 2,174, approximately one percent, of gun sales have been denied under existing laws, this is similar to averages for denials for the past eight years. Denials under existing law are primarily based on purchasers having prior criminal convictions, outstanding warrants, restraining orders, or other statutory restrictions including certain mental health history. The current waiting period for gun purchases is 10 days and allows the Department of Justice to ensure that purchasers are not statutorily prohibited from purchasing guns. Waiting periods for handgun purchases have existed since 1923, and in 1991 long gun purchases became subject to waiting periods as well.

The 1999 legislative session resulted in the passage of six new gun laws and ensures that California leads the nation in gun control and gun safety laws. Senate Bill 23 expands California's existing assault weapons law by banning assault weapons with specified characteristics. Senate Bill 15 requires handguns to be safety tested to ensure that the risk of accidental discharge is limited and prohibits the sale of those guns which do not pass the safety tests. Senate Bill 130 requires all new handguns to be sold with safety/trigger locks. Assembly Bill 295 adds a number of restrictions to gun shows in order to crack down on illegal sales and other unlawful activity. Assembly Bill 202 restricts handgun purchases to one per month in order to reduce "straw" purchases where guns were being transferred to individuals who would have been otherwise denied purchasing a gun. Assembly Bill 491 makes it a potential felony to carry a loaded and/or concealed handgun that is not registered. These laws will be effective beginning January 1, 2000.

"The Department of Justice will be ready to enforce these new laws when they take effect beginning next year," said Lockyer. "With every firearm purchase comes enormous responsibilities for its owner. I urge every gun owner to be conscientious enough to ensure that their firearm is safely stored, kept out of the reach of children and used only after taking appropriate safety precautions. The failure to do any of these things can result only in tragedy, loss and heartache."

The Department of Justice maintains a web page for its firearms program which is a valuable source of information on topics such as firearms transfers, licensing, forms and new laws. The webpage can be found at http://caag.state.ca.us/firearms and includes headings such as:

* Advice for Travelers Transporting Firearms While in California
* The 1999 Dangerous Weapons Control Laws
* Frequently Asked Questions from the Public and Firearms Dealers
* Firearms Program On-Line Forms
* Firearms Program Information Bulletins
* Important Notices
* Links to the Bill Information Page at the Legislative Counsel's Web Site

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