California streets are safe now: Gun-like smartphone cases banned

California streets are safe now: Gun-like smartphone cases banned

Use a gun cell phone case in California? Not anymore if you want to stay on the right side of the law (Photo: Imgur)

West Coast lawmakers have left no stone unturned in their crusade to protect the public from scary gun-like objects as a new law banning the sale or manufacture of phone cases resembling guns was signed Friday.

California Assembly Assistant Majority Leader Jim Cooper, a Sacramento Democrat, introduced the measure in February to change state law to consider a cell phone case that is similar in color and appearance to a gun, to be classified as an imitation firearm, then ban the manufacture or sale of such covers.

“The bill is necessary because existing law is not sufficient in its definition to clearly prohibit the manufacture, import or distribution of gun shapes cellular/smartphone cases,” said Cooper in a note to lawmakers. He went on to explain that, since they do not have a barrel that can be marked in a high-viz color– such as required for toys– some could think they were a gun.

Just to repeat– because they do not have a barrel (see what we did there) that can be marked in a high-viz color, such as required for toys, some could think they were a gun.

Cooper’s measure, AB 1798, passed unanimously in the Assembly with Senate concurrence and Gov. Jerry Brown signed the bill Friday without comment.

A host of law enforcement lobby groups to include the state highway patrol association, sheriffs’ association and police chiefs’ association all supported the proposal.

Elsewhere, a similar bill to ban cell phone gun cases passed the Minnesota Senate in May.

AB 1798 is not Cooper’s only successful legislative attempt at dropping the hammer on guns that may skirt the existing rules in California. In May he gutted a bill left behind by a retiring lawmaker to enact clean vehicle rules for trucks, buses and off road vehicles and redrafted it to place extra requirements on homemade guns commonly referred to as “ghost guns”

Pushed through the legislature, it was signed by Brown last month.

The new law, set to go into effect in January 2017, changes the definition of a firearm under California law to include, “an unfinished frame or receiver that can be readily converted to the functional condition of a finished frame or receiver.” Such raw components would have to be regulated in the state just like other guns including having a serial number registered with the Department of Justice, transferred through a licensed dealer, and fall under DROS fee schedules and waiting periods for first-time buyers.

“Increasingly untraceable, undetectable, and stolen firearms are being used in serious crimes,” said Cooper, a former 30-year law enforcement officer, in a statement on AB 857. “I am proud to author legislation to address these issues and protect the public while safeguarding our Second Amendment rights.”

The Firearms Policy Coalition had urged Brown to veto Cooper’s ghost gun bill, saying, “In addition to many other terminal issues presented in the bill, AB 857 fails to conform its exemptions to federal law, thereby placing potentially hundreds of thousands of good, law-abiding people at the mercy of an unconstitutionally vague criminal statute.”