Lawmakers in California are piling Gov. Gavin Newsom's desk with anti-gun legislation including bills that could sting gun shops and make it harder for hunters under 21 to pursue their sport.

The California legislature last week approved AB 2362, which would levy high fines on licensed gun dealers for minor violations, and SB 914 which increases red tape for those under 21 looking to exercise their right to keep and bear arms. 

AB 2362, sponsored by Assembly Member Al Muratsuchi, a Los Angeles Democrat, passed the state Senate 26-11 and the Assembly 53-18. It would authorize the California Department of Justice to impose civil fines as high as $3,000 on the state's 1,800 firearms dealers over minor technical violations, for instance having the incorrect font and text size on required signs. Supporters of the bill say it allows for relatively insignificant issues to be corrected under threat of fine rather than having to take more punitive measures such as closing stores. 

Pro-gun groups argue that existing state and federal law already regulates FFL through a series of some of the toughest laws in the country. 

"This bill is an obvious attempt to drive dealers out of business for inconsequential violations," says the NRA, whose state organization, the California Rifle and Pistol Association, argued against AB 2362 to lawmakers. 

Increased hunting license scrutiny

When it comes to SB 914, sponsored by state Sen. Anthony Portantino, another Los Angeles-area Dem, passed the state Senate 29-10 and the Assembly 53-19. The measure puts into place procedure for California DOJ to confirm that a hunting license is valid when a person under the age of 21 years of age is using the license to purchase a firearm-- about the only exemption for adults aged 18-20 to legally buy a rifle or shotgun over the counter in the state. 

It is estimated it will cost taxpayers $5.5 million over the next to years, and $600,000 every year afterward, to establish the infrastructure for DOJ to confirm a person’s valid hunting license with wildlife officials as part of a firearms background check. The outlay will likely be passed on to legal gun owners through increased mandatory fees. 

Portantino, who in 2018 penned the legislation that largely banned the legal sale of firearms to adults under 21 with the exemption for law enforcement, members of the military, and those with a valid hunting license, said the new regulation is needed to make sure DOJ confirms the validity of a hunting license as part of the background check process. Other disagree. 

“We do not believe that it is necessary to define when a hunting license is valid," said Gun Owners of California, who opposes the legislation in addition to other gun rights organizations. The group also "believes that this legislation will eliminate most, if not all, youth shooting programs throughout the state by making it virtually impossible for youth to shoot a firearm provided by anyone other than parents. This includes youth camps and high school shooting teams that have become very popular throughout California."

AB 2362 and SB 914 join a measure that could rapidly shrink the state's roster of approved semi-auto handguns on Newsom's desk.