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California Senate barely OKs bill requiring gun licenses

SHARE California Senate barely OKs bill requiring gun licenses

LOS ANGELES — The California Senate narrowly voted Monday to require hundreds of thousands of handgun buyers to obtain licenses, setting the stage for a potential collision with Gov. Gray Davis, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The vote represented a victory for the Legislature's most far-reaching gun-control bill of the session, but its outlook is uncertain at best, the paper said Tuesday.

The bill must still pass the assembly, where its prospects are too close to call, and Davis is unlikely to sign it into law, his aides have indicated.

The paper also said his aides said he had not backed away from his warning against creating new gun controls until wide-ranging reforms enacted last year are given the time needed for implementation.

The Senate, which has a large Democratic majority, has on several occasions taken positions opposed by the Democratic governor.

The bill, which is opposed by the National Rifle Association and other gun organizations, would require Californians to buy a special license in order to purchase a pistol or revolver from a dealer or to exchange or transfer handguns in private-party transactions. It would take effect on July 1, 2002. Californians would not be required to obtain licenses for handguns they already own.

Handgun buyers would be required to pass existing background checks, pass a safety test on handling a gun and demonstrate proficiency in firing live ammunition, the paper said. Supporters of the handgun licensing bill, passed by a vote of 22-15 in the 40-member Senate, contend that licensing handgun owners would make California safer.

"If we do it for operation of a motor vehicle, we should do the same for operation of an equally dangerous piece of equipment," the Times quoted Democrat Sen. Don Perata, floor manager for the bill, as saying.