View Full Version : CA Gun Legislation Primer

07-16-2006, 11:40 AM
First, I want to thank all of the calguns.net members that have responded to NRA's calls-to-action in support of our legislative goals. Your state lobbyist and Members' Council staff administrator frequently tell me to relay their appreciation.

I thought a basic explanation of the legislative process, how a bill becomes a law (without music :-) might be appreciated by relative newcomers and old-timers as a review. In my 10 years of experience working with our top NRA staff in the state, these are the steps I’ve seen, as most frequently applies to gun-related legislation.

First, your legislature works on a 2-year cycle. That means that every 2 years (coincident with Assembly elections), the bill slate is wiped clean and new bills are introduced. (A bill may be introduced again with the same bill number, but it is still a new cycle.) We are now late in the 2nd year of the 2005-2006 cycle.

Each year, bills are introduced within both houses of the legislature and given successive bill numbers. “AB” bills originate in the Assembly, “SB” in the Senate. In each house, every bill is assigned a series of committee hearings based on the kind of impact it has (Is it financial? Create a new crime? Etc.). For gun bills, these committees almost always involve “Public Safety”, “Appropriations” and “Judiciary” but can occasionally include “Water Parks and Wildlife”, “Health” and other committees too.

Each committee must pass the bill on a majority vote. If a bill fails a vote, it remains stalled in that committee but may be voted on again later (called “granted reconsideration”). BILLS NEVER DIE until the end of the 2-year cycle.

Once a bill has passed all required committees for a given house, it is then subject to a FLOOR VOTE – it must pass a majority vote of all members of that house. As in committee, if a bill fails, it may be “granted reconsideration” and voted on again. If successful, the bill is then sent to the OTHER house to undergo the same process.

To pass the legislature (and go on to the governor), a bill has to pass a majority vote of both houses in the same form. If the Senate amends an Assembly bill, it must return to the Assembly for a concurrence vote. If necessary, a Senate-Assembly conference committee may be called to work out major differences. That’s the basic movement of things, but there can be some twists…

Bills that are still in their house of origin cannot languish. If a bill doesn’t pass out of it’s house of origin by a certain deadline (about early June), it can no longer progress for the remainder of that year (but it is not dead). It can ONLY move forward at that point by rule waiver (remember – the legislature can waive rules when they want to!), but that is the exception to the rule. This is one method to stop bad bills – prevent them from passing their house of origin by the deadline. However, once a bill has passed it’s house of origin, it can remain inactive for as long as the author desires and again become active at anytime.

Finally, if a bill is doing badly, it may become subject to a “Gut & Amend”. Sometimes, bills are introduced with bogus language that is INTENDED to be “gutted and amended” later. Either way, the entire language of the original bill is thrown out and new language turns it into an entirely different beast. This happened this year with AB 2728…

All CA gun-owners should know the latest “snapshot” of active and inactive gun bills is available at:

That page is an all-encompassing, detailed description of each bill and it’s current status. If you are interested in a specific bill and know the bill number, the website offers a much more “targeted” (and user-friendly) summary page for each bill. By adding a bit to the above url, each summary page can be viewed. For example, to see the latest on AB 352 (Microstamping), the summary url would be:

(Just add “?summary=” followed by the bill number, with no spaces.)

Lastly, the same website provides a review of the legislative activity that took place in 2003, 2004 and 2005. In the same fashion as just described, add “?year=” to that url and add the year. For example:

If you have questions, please submit them to the California NRA Members’ Council support volunteers and staff at:

Individual California NRA Members’ Councils may be contacted at:
(Each MC name on that page links to a contact page showing that MC’s monthly meeting time and location.)

Your California NRA-ILA EVC’s may be contacted here:


07-16-2006, 12:25 PM
Oh, yeah...

Once a bill goes to the governor, he/she has 30 days to sign or veto it.

If the governor simply ignores a bill, in California, the bill becomes law by default at the end of that 30 day period. This is unlike the federal government and most states, where, if the executive officer ignores a bill on his/her desk, it dies as though vetoed.


07-16-2006, 12:26 PM
Once again, thanks Mike.

07-16-2006, 1:43 PM
If you 'appreciate' the whole mess, you can get the full details of a bill at leginfo (http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/bilinfo.html). However, CalNRA is hours to days more up to date; seems to take the maintainers a long time to post changes, and sometimes only someone in the building sending email can keep up - which NRA has.

Dont Tread on Me
07-16-2006, 5:58 PM
Thanks Mike. Can you annotate with critical times we (the tax paying voters) can influence things? Is it best to e-mail the day before a committee votes etc.