California Governor Jerry Brown vetoed a gun-control measure that would have banned sales of most types of semi-automatic rifles with detachable magazines like those used in two of last year’s mass shootings.
Brown, a 75-year-old Democrat and a gun owner himself, approved a ban on adapters to convert magazines to larger capacity.
California lawmakers passed the bills in the wake of mass shootings in a Newtown, Connecticut, school that killed 20 children and six educators, and in an Aurora, Colorado, movie theater where 12 were killed. Brown said a ban on sale of semi-auto rifles with detachable magazines would do little to reduce crime while infringing upon the rights of gun owners.
“This bill covers low-capacity rifles that are commonly used for hunting, firearms training and marksmanship practice, as well as some historical and collectible firearms,” Brown said in a statement explaining his veto. “I don’t believe this bill’s blanket ban on semi-automatic rifles would reduce criminal activity or enhance public safety enough to warrant this infringement of gun owners’ rights.”
The National Rifle Association had said it would challenge the constitutionality of such a limit, according to a posting on the NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action website Oct. 1.
Brown also vetoed a bill that would have allowed the city of Oakland, where he was mayor for two terms, the right to establish its own gun registration and licensing program with more restrictions than state law. Oakland officials sought the law to help combat the growing number of gun-related crimes in the city of 400,000.
The governor signed a gun bill making California the first state in the U.S. to prohibit the use of all lead ammunition for hunting to curb lead poisoning in humans and wildlife. Brown signed the lead bullet ban only after it was amended to make it less restrictive to hunters.
“I am concerned, however, the impression left from this bill is that hunters and sportsmen and women in California are not conservationist,” he said in a statement. “Since 1930, hunters have done more than any other community to conserve species and their habitats and this is a lasting conservation legacy.”
California passed the nation’s first ban on some semi-automatic rifles in 1989 after a gunman with an AK-47 sprayed an elementary school in Stockton, killing five children and wounding 29.