San Francisco lawmaker authors bill to tighten restrictions on assault weapons

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- State lawmakers are trying to tighten California's assault weapons ban by authoring a bill to close a loophole they believe has allowed killers in mass shootings to get their hands on these weapons.

Most assault rifles are banned in California. Assemblyman David Chiu believes the other semi-automatic weapons that are not illegal should be. Those are the ones with something called a "bullet button."

San Francisco assemblyman David Chiu has introduced a bill which he says will close a loophole in the state's assault weapons ban. A loophole which he says has enabled some of the killers in mass shootings to fire quickly.

One of two similar looking semi-automatic rifles is banned in California because it's considered an assault rifle. It's the one where users can easily press a button to release the magazine and quickly reload with another.

"We all know that the deadly aspect of an assault weapon is the ease of detaching a magazine and reloading," Chiu said.

The legal semi-automatic rifle doesn't have a so-called "bullet button" that allows people to unload a magazine with the press of their finger. But Chiu demonstrated Thursday that you can use a bullet to press that button. The magazine quickly pops out, or you can use other tools, a pen.

Chiu's bill would also categorize these firearms as assault rifles, thus banning them. Assemblyman Phil Ting is a co-author. "The whole point was to slow down a potential killer, or a potential person's ability to fire off rounds," Ting said.

At least one of the San Bernardino shooters used a bullet button semi-automatic rifle.

The question remains if the bill will really close the loophole. Retired police Lieutenant and NRA member Larry Barsetti says, no.

"If they're going to commit a crime, they're going to either bring more guns or they'll modify the guns, which is what happened in San Bernardino. And how do you stop that?" said Larry Barsetti, a NRA member.

Chiu's bill would require the owner of an assault weapon without a fixed magazine to register with the state.
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