California bill would limit number of guns people can buy to one per month as state's new governor takes swipe at gun lobby

Key Points
  • A bill rejected last year by California's outgoing governor, Jerry Brown, has been reintroduced in the legislature and would limit the number of guns Californians can purchase to just one per month.
  • California's new Gov. Gavin Newsom took a swipe at the gun lobby in his inaugural address Monday.
  • Newsom, a Democrat, has already indicated he supports some gun control legislation Brown rejected.
A man buys a gun at the Gun Gallery in Glendale, California.
Gabriel Bouys | AFP | Getty Images

A bill has been reintroduced in the California state legislature that would limit the number of guns Californians can purchase to just one per month. A similar measure was vetoed last year by outgoing Gov. Jerry Brown.

It comes as another Democrat, Gavin Newsom, takes the reins Monday as the state's 40th governor. Newsom took a swipe at the gun lobby and Trump administration in his inaugural address.

"Make no mistake, there are powerful forces arrayed against us," Newsom said. "Not just politicians in Washington — but drug companies that gouge Californians with sky-high prices. A gun lobby that's willing to sacrifice the lives of our children to line their pockets."

In the aftermath of the Nov. 7 Borderline Bar & Grill mass shooting in Thousand Oaks, Newsom went on record supporting tougher gun control laws. He wasn't specific on any piece of legislation but indicated there were bills Brown rejected that he favored.

"I've been as transparent on gun issues as any candidate for higher office in decades," Newsom told reporters in November. "I think we can even do more and better."

California Senate Bill 61, introduced by Democratic state Sen. Anthony Portantino, would impose a prohibition on the purchase or transfer of more than one firearm within a 30-day period. California law already prohibits any person from purchasing more than one handgun per month.

Last September, Brown vetoed Senate Bill 1177, a similar bill that would have banned Californians from buying more than one long gun per month. He also rejected another measure doing the same thing in 2016 and called the legislation in his veto message "well intentioned," but added it "would have the effect of burdening lawful citizens who wish to sell certain firearms that they no longer need."

Maryland has a ban on the books barring a person from buying more than one handgun or assault weapon within a 30-day period, while New Jersey bars dealers from transferring more than one handgun to any person within a 30-day period. Virginia passed a one-handgun-a-month law in the early 1990s but repealed it in 2012.

"California already has extensive waiting periods before a law-abiding citizen can exercise a fundamental constitutional right," said Lawrence Keane, senior vice president for government and public affairs for the National Shooting Sports Foundation, a gun rights advocacy group based in Connecticut. "Further burdening and infringing on Californians' constitutional rights by rationing its exercise will not make the community safer. This was something former Gov. Brown understood."