NRA mad over California bill: 'Our rights are being chipped away'

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) The National Rifle Association has announced it will sue the state of California if Gov. Jerry Brown signs into a law a bill tightening restrictions on the use of semiautomatic weapons.

A dozen gun control bills await signatures from Brown. One of them is SB 374, which would change the definition of an assault rifle to include any semiautomatic rifle with a detachable magazine, and limit fixed magazines to 10 rounds or less.

SB 374 would be another in a long line of gun-control bills recently passed in the state, but it would be the most far-reaching of bills since the 1990s.

Some Bakersfield gun owners said Thursday that they see this latest crackdown as a slippery slope and only a matter of time before their other rights are taken away.

"It is an individual right," said local gun owner Gerry Saba. "It is something put forth by our founding fathers, to bear arms."

Gene Thome is the owner of Bear Mountain Sports and NRA lifetime member. He said the bill isn't just bad for gun owners, it's bad for business.

"Almost half of hunting rifles are automatics, so it would ban almost half the rifles that we sell," said Thome.

Legislators said the restrictions would prevent mass shootings like those at the Navy Yard in Washington, D.C. and at Sandy Hook school in Connecticut.

"A common sense restriction on detachable magazines is a small price to pay to help reduce the carnage from someone bent on mass murder by using rapid reloading, rapid fire weapons," Sen. Darrell Steinberg, who authored SB 374, said in a statement.

Gun users argue there are legitimate hunting and self-defense reasons to carry multiple rounds.

"A cop wants to carry the maximum he can to protect himself, and a citizen should be able to carry the same amount," said Thome.

"It's better to have and not need, than to need and not have," said Saba.

Thome believes the state wants to ban guns altogether.

"I'm a gun owner, and most NRA members are in the same boat. They want their rights protected. Our rights are being chipped away daily, and it's not just having to do with guns. It has to do with everything," Thome said.

Some said the tightening restrictions on gun laws could even drive some Californians away.

"I know vast amounts of people who are leaving California to Missouri, Texas, and all over the place to get away from here because of the nonsense laws that we have on the books," said Thome.

The governor has until Oct. 13 to sign or veto the bills.