Yee introduces bill to ban ‘bullet buttons’

A Bay Area lawmaker introduced a bill today to close a loophole in the state’s assault-weapons law allowing “bullet-button” semiautomatic rifles that reload in an instant.

State Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco, gutted and amended SB 249 to carry the legislation, and expects it will be considered by the Legislature next month.

“There is absolutely no reason why these military style weapons need to have such easily changeable magazines,” Yee said in a news release. “While most gun owners are law abiding, I am deeply concerned with these assault weapons getting into the wrong hands, resulting in mass casualties of civilians or law enforcement officers.”

Magazines that can be removed by a normal push button, in combination with features such as a pistol grip and telescoping stock, are banned by California law; the law essentially requires that magazines be fixed, or removed or replaced with the use of a tool, in order to slow down the reloading process.

In an apparent effort to get around the law, gun makers have created a new mechanism that lets the magazine be easily removed by the tip of a bullet or in some cases by just putting a small magnet over the “bullet button,” basically recreating a normal push-button and letting magazines be changed within seconds.

“These conversions are circumventing the spirit of California’s assault weapon statute,” said Yee. “Absent this bill, California’s assault weapon ban is practically toothless. For the safety of the general public, we must close this loophole.”

The “bullet button” controversy was brought to the fore by a recent report by CBS5. As you can see here, it’s cheap and easy to install:

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.

  • Elwood

    Thank God Yee is termed out.

    Enough idiotic Yee bills already!

  • Guns don’t cause crime, criminals cause crime. Yee’s needs to focus on the real problems with this state!

  • JohnW

    What do those upstanding law abiders do with the AR’s? Why do they want to change magazines more quickly? Just curious.

  • This law will definately help. Criminals will now be required to change magazines as slow as the rest of us law abiding citizens.

  • Chris

    Upstanding law abiders have ARs and use them for a variety of reasons. Personally, I spent ten years in the Marine Corps, so it is what I trained with. But the AR platform is modular to allow customization, fitting various needs. Hunting? Add a scope and tactical rail for a bipod. Competition sport shooting? Add a close range optic and ergonomic hand grips. Home defense? Modular rail system with light and laser for threat recognition.
    The point isn’t what we do with the law abiding rifles. The point is what is not being done. A woman was stabbed in Santa Cruz last month, in broad daylight. We aren’t banning or regulating knife sales.
    Also, the bullet button wasn’t designed to “get around” a law. It was designed to conform with the law as it was written. Who decides which guns are “safe” and which ones are “evil”?
    As it stands, criminals don’t care about this bill, because they’ll do as they please regardless. This bill is merely a step towards denying citizens their second amendment rights one law at a time.
    A rifle is completely dependent upon intent, just as icepicks, knives, chainsaws, motor vehicles and pharmaceuticals are beneficial to those who use them. Those same items can be construed as deadly weapons in the hands of someone with malicious intent.
    If senator Yee really wants to make a name for himself, he could start by fixing californias multibillion dollar deficit instead of jumping on imaginary threats from law abiding citizens.

  • Elwood

    “If senator Yee really wants to make a name for himself”

    He succeeded at that years ago.

    The name is idiot.

  • JohnW

    Re: #5

    Thanks for the reply. Have to agree with you that, for now, having everybody focus exclusively on the budget instead of other stuff would be good.

    I trained mostly on an M-14 and to a lesser degree on an M-16 in basic. The M-16s were in short supply and needed in Nam and by those in AIT being trained for combat. That dates me. No desire to keep one around for shooting targets, varmints, intruders or whatever. If my neighbor has an uninvited guest, I hope I don’t become collateral damage if he sprays the place with a semi-automatic AR.

    Based on Heller, it seems unlikely that AR-type weapons would fall under 2nd Amendment protection as determined by the Court.

  • OneWhoKnows

    I would like to point out that AR style weapons with Bullet Buttons have been FLOODING California for the last 4 years and the violent crime rate has been dropping. Gun ownership in CA is at an all time high, and crime at a low. Go figure….

  • JohnW

    Re #8

    I would also point out that people keep getting fatter, and people are living longer. Must be a cause and effect relationship, right?

  • Gary Buffon

    The main difference between liberal politicians, such as Yee and people with common sense if a basic understanding of firearms and their role in the US. Senator Yee is simply another autocratic California polician who believes he has to control things so the stupid citizen of his state don’t hurt themselves or kill others. California citizens have to realize that many whom they elect have exactly this same mental instability and must not be put in political office!! California has more gun laws than any other state yet our crime rates are not lower nor does it do anything positive for our state. I have friends that have left this state because of the onerous firearms laws.

  • Scotty

    I was there during the L.A. Riots (and a friend witnessed the Katrina aftermath). The people with the better weapons were able to defend themselves and their property. When you see a car full of armed thugs coming at you, you wish you had a fully automatic AR to shoot back.
    Unfortunately, criminals do not abide by this law. This will just make it easier for them to turn us law-abiding citizens into victims.

  • jim

    I’m tired of these clueless law makers hammering the law abiding citizens. How about punishing the criminals instead of us. Vote these idiots out.

  • Brad

    The California Attorney General 2010 Report on Firearms used in the Commission of Crimes lists handguns as used 90% of the time. Rifles constituted only 7%. Yee’s legislation is simply solving a problem that doesn’t exist, making it completely ineffective and a waste of time and resources. Yet the people of California continue to elect and re-elect lawmakers just like him. Instead of actually solving California’s real problems, they propose asinine legislation limiting the rights of law-abiding citizens to convince the fearful they’re earning their money. Government by fear is the California way.