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New law sets off flurry of gun sales

  • Fred Calonico, a former marine, looks through the scope on a Savage Arms .338 Lapua rifle at Sportsmans Arms in Petaluma on Tuesday. (CHRISTOPHER CHUNG/Press Democrat)

A new law hitting the books today that allows the state to keep detailed information about long-gun purchases doesn't sit well with Ryan Pipkin.

The Cotati hunter values his privacy and doesn't want the government to know what guns he keeps, much less their makes, models or serial numbers.

So with just hours to spare, Pipkin dropped by Sportsmans Arms in Petaluma on New Year's Eve and ordered parts to build two AR-15 rifles. If the popular firearm is ever outlawed, no one will try to confiscate them from him, he says.

“I don't want to be on any list,” said Pipkin, 26, as he filled out paperwork at the checkout counter. “No one does. I pay my taxes and that's it. That's all they need to know.”

Pipkin was one of many people who crowded into North Coast gun shops at the 11th hour in anticipation of a new law that some fear chips away at their right to bear arms.

As of Jan. 1, the state Department of Justice will for the first time ever collect information about shotgun and rifle purchases and maintain it in a computer database.

In the past, details such as make, model and serial number were destroyed after five days. Only handgun purchases were permanently recorded.

But supporters said that left a huge gap in the law and proposed AB809 to bring “much-needed uniformity,” treating long-barreled firearms more like handguns.

Co-sponsors from the San Francisco-based Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence called it “critical” for tracing guns found at crime scenes. Also, the group said it will help police take guns from convicted felons, the mentally ill or others who are not permitted to have them.

Despite the notoriety of handguns, long guns factor in many crimes, the center said.

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