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Gov. Brown vetoes bill banning semi-automatic rifles

  • In this photo taken Thursday, Oct. 3, 2013, a custom made semi-automatic hunting rifle with a detachable magazine is displayed at TDS Guns in Rocklin, Calif. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

SACRAMENTO — Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed a bill Friday that would have imposed the nation's toughest gun ownership restrictions on Californians, saying it was too far-reaching.

The legislation would have banned future sales of most semi-automatic rifles that accept detachable magazines, part of a firearms package approved by state lawmakers in response to mass shootings in other states.

It was lawmakers' latest attempt to close loopholes that have allowed manufacturers to work around previous assault weapon bans. Gun rights groups had threatened to sue if the semi-automatic weapons ban became law.

"I don't believe that this bill's blanket ban on semi-automatic rifles would reduce criminal activity or enhance public safety enough to warrant this infringement on gun owners' rights," the Democratic governor wrote in his veto message.

He also noted that California already has some of the nation's strictest gun and ammunition laws.

The legislation was among 18 gun bills considered by the governor as he works toward a Sunday deadline to act on bills sent to his desk last month. He signed 11 firearms bills into law and vetoed seven.

Democratic Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, who proposed the rifle restrictions, said in a statement that more than 1,100 Californians have been killed with guns since the mass school shooting in Newtown, Conn., in December.

"I believe aggressive action is precisely what's needed to reduce the carnage in our communities, and to counter the equally aggressive action by the gun industry," Steinberg said.

The bill sought to ban the sale of assault rifles, but Brown objected that it also would have applied to low-capacity weapons commonly used for hunting, firearms training and target shooting, and some historical and collectible firearms. Brown also didn't want thousands of legal gun owners to have to register their existing weapons as assault rifles and be blocked from selling or transferring the weapons.

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