Saying it wouldn't protect the public, Gov. Pete Wilson (R) vetoed a bill that threatened California's gunmakers by proposing new safety standards for "Saturday night specials."
The bill, touted as a safety-boosting effort, would have required "junk guns" - cheap, easily obtained pistols, mostly made in southern California - to meet the same standards as imported guns. It called for pistols to be at least 6 inches long. Revolvers would have to be 4 inches long.
Gunmakers faced with paying for new designs and production contended the new weapons would be not only bigger, but deadlier.
"The real test applied by the bill is whether or not the weapon is readily concealable," Governor Wilson said Friday. "By this definition and test, all handguns - except, ironically, the largest and deadliest" would be banned.
Five California gunmakers produce 80 percent of the Saturday night specials sold in the US. They made 900,000 pistols in 1993, though a sales slump dropped that to about 300,000 in 1995.