Tags: Calif. | Gun | Law | Worries | Second | Amendment | Supporters

Calif. Gun Law Worries Second Amendment Supporters

Thursday, 02 November 2000 12:00 AM

The law at issue is California's 2001 requirement that all handguns manufactured and sold within the state receive a safety stamp of approval from the California Department of Justice, or be declared illegal.

All models of guns "manufactured, imported into California for sale, lent, given, kept for sale, or offered/exposed for sale" will have to be tested first at one of five agencies certified to rate safety standards by the DOJ. "Private party transfers, curio/relic handguns, and pawn returns are exempt from this requirement."

Manufacturers and dealers will submit for testing three guns from each model they wish to sell. The DOJ will then gather the test scores and determine whether the models are safe for consumers and legal for sale.

"I'm comfortable with the independence of the testing labs. I'm confident with the integrity of the California Department of Justice. But if several other states take up this mandate, like Massachusetts, like Maryland, you could end up with 50 states with 50 different sets of standards," said James Chambers, vice president of the National Sports Shooting Foundation in Washington.

"So you can see the mess you'd end up with."

What could ensue, Chambers continued, is a federally controlled system of similar safety testing standards.

While supporters of California's newest legislation tout the safety benefits consumers will receive, opponents view it as just one more step toward banning guns. One of the perceived problems with the law, passed last year and signed by Democrat Gov. Gray Davis, is that some of the safety tests required for all models of handguns are already performed at the manufacturer's level.

"From the height of three meters, the handgun is dropped on concrete in various positions ... to ensure it doesn't discharge when dropped," Chambers said, explaining what he called the drop test.

"Our agency and the manufacturers do that test already, but on a surface that won't destroy the handgun."

A Smith & Wesson spokesman confirmed the test was done during manufacturing.

Spokesmen from Gray's office, Handgun Control and the California Department of Justice did not return telephone calls to explain why they believed the test was necessary when it had already been performed and the weapon approved for safety by the manufacturer. They were also unavailable to comment on another state mandated firing test that required the gun to fire successfully 594 out of 600 times.

"That one's not even safety related," Chambers said. "Six malfunctions out of 600 shots and the gun fails."

Smith & Wesson is reportedly tolerant of the new law, even though no provision exists within the document to allow for extending the sale of those handguns left untested by the deadline date for implementation – a key glitch, according to Chambers, who doubted one month was enough time to complete the rating process.

"A major problem ... is to get an adequate number of guns through the labs before the [deadline] date," Chambers said. "So come January 2001, those guns that aren't tested are illegal" and dealers may have to remove models from their sales shelves.

Ken Jorgensen, marketing and communications director for Smith & Wesson in Springfield, Mass., said he did not know the exact number of handgun models still untested, but was unconcerned with the process.

"There's nothing they're doing that we don't do or that we won't pass," he said. "We have to abide by the law ... and we are having our guns tested."

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The law at issue is California's 2001 requirement that all handguns manufactured and sold within the state receive a safety stamp of approval from the California Department of Justice, or be declared illegal. All models of guns manufactured, imported into California for...
Calif.,Gun,Law,Worries,Second,Amendment,Supporters
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2000-00-02
Thursday, 02 November 2000 12:00 AM
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