25, 2004--After losing a vote in June to ban the possession
of guns chambered for the .50 BMG cartridge, members of the California
State Assembly held a re-vote on the bill. This time the bill,
AB-50, passed the Assembly.
With the California State Senate already having passed the bill,
it now heads to Governor Arnold Schwarzenneger's desk, where its
future is uncertain. Governor Schwarzenneger has not indicated
whether he would sign or veto the legislation.
The bill would allow current owners of .50 BMG rifles to keep
them, as long as the owners register the guns with the state.
Further sales of guns chambered for the .50 BMG cartridge would
According to members of The Fifty Caliber Institute, proponents
of the bill in the Assembly engaged in a bizarre but apparently
legal tactic called "ghost voting." Once they had cast
their votes for the bill, they went to the desks of absent assembly
members and pushed the "yes" button to cast votes on
behalf of those members.
Despite the fact that .50 BMG rifles are expensive, bulky, extraordinarily
heavy, and have never been used in a crime, several states have
sought to ban them. California is now the first state to actually
US Senator Dianne Feinstein of California has made passage of
AB-50 something of a personal crusade, and has lobbied heavily
for the bill. She has made some incredible claims about what the
.50 BMG is capable of: that it can pierce the armor on a tank
miles away, that it can shoot down airliners, and that it can
pierce armor-plated limousines from miles away in Washington DC.
Governor Schwarzenneger's record on guns since taking office
has been mixed. He vetoed a so called "gun education"
bill that was opposed by pro-gun groups. However, Schwarzenneger
has publicly advocated the renewal of the 1994 Federal "Assault
Weapons" ban, which is due to sunset on September 13th of