August 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 be prohibited.

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 do so.

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 this year.


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