There have been thirteen firearm attacks on school campuses resulting in injury or death across the United States since the beginning of 2018,and five more instances of gunfire on campuses – two of which occurred in California. All of this, combined with the mass shooting in Parkland, Florida and the and the ongoing work of the survivors of that shooting have catapulted gun safety towards the top of 2018’s major issues. In response, Senator Anthony Portantino (D-La Cañada Flintridge) has a bill to raise the minimum age to purchase a rifle to 21.
California law already restricts handgun sales to only persons over 21 and to a maximum purchase of one handgun every 30 days. However, for purchasing rifles, 18 is the minimum age. Portantino’s bill would have rifle restrictions mirror the restrictions on handgun purchases, raising the minimum age to 21 and limiting purchases of rifles to once every 30 days.
It is not uncommon for California legislators to propose legislation to limit the sale of firearms. In 2016, the California Legislature passed a bill banning the sale of assault rifles and required registration by owners. A bill, similar to Sen. Portantino’s, limiting rifle purchases to every 30 days was defeated last year in the Assembly after the National Rifle Association opposed the bill.
This bill is not without its opponents. Sam Paredes, Director of Gun Owners of California, argues that the proposed restrictions are excessive. He notes that 18 year-olds are allowed to serve in the military, vote, and drive cars. Other proponents of the freedom to purchase weapons are not hesitating to condemn the revised legislation as well.
As mentioned earlier, 2018 has had two school shooting incidents in California. On January 10, at California State University, San Bernardino, bullets were fired through a window, with no suspects or motive identified. Later, on February 1st, a semi-automatic handgun brought to school in Los Angeles by a 12-year-old student accidentally went off. Four students were injured.
Sen. Portantino’s legislation joins dozens of other bills on guns working their way through the California Legislature this year. It will be interesting to see where they all land.