Several state laws going into effect in 2011 address two of California's most contentious topics: alcohol consumption and handgun use.
Hosts accountable for serving teens: The legislature adopted two measures, both effective January 1, intended to stave off the risks of underage drinking.
Assembly Bill 2486, the "Teen Alcohol Safety Act of 2010," opens a "social host" who is 21 or older to the risk of legal liability for property damage, injury or death that results from knowingly serving alcohol to underage guests.
The legislative record refers to the new law as a "parental responsibility bill," designed to hold adults responsible when they give teens alcohol and to discourage parents and other adults from providing teens with booze of any kind at private parties or residences.
Limited amnesty for teens calling 911: When teenagers do drink, existing law makes them subject to criminal liability for buying alcohol or carrying it in public.
A second bill, AB 1999, aims to help teens stay safe by granting them limited protection from certain criminal charges if they call 911 to ask for help for themselves or another teen who has been drinking.
The new law does not prevent teens from suffering the consequences when the law says alcohol would make an activity – such as driving -- dangerous.
Coming soon: whisky tastings? Beginning January 1, 2011, certain retailers with an "off-sale" alcoholic beverage license -- which usually means grocery stores, liquor stores and other retailers selling alcoholic beverages that won't be consumed on their own premises -- are eligible for a $300 instructional tasting license from the Alcoholic Beverage Control board.
Assembly Bill 605 creates a new category of ABC license allowing retailers to offer free tastings of beer, wine, and /or spirits.
Previously, some retailers could host beer and wine tastings, but the new law makes the tasting-license process less cumbersome and includes the chance to offer free hard alcohol.
Thumbprints, ID required for the sale of ammunition: Actually passed during 2009, Assembly Bill 962, the "Anti-Gang Neighborhood Protection Act of 2009," takes effect February 1, 2011. The new law requires handgun ammunition sellers to record a buyer's thumbprint along with other valid identification and make the records available to law enforcement for five years.
"I think it's just going to be a pain," said Irene Cravea, while working the counter at her son's shop, in Napa.
"I think a lot of people will walk away because they don't want to have to give their information," Cravea said.
Jack Jennings, who owns The Last Gun Shop inside in Napa, said the state had a similar law back in the 1960s.
He said that with guns so readily available today, he doesn't see how requiring purchase records can help the state do anything about gun violence.
"It won't stop gang members from shooting each other, it won't stop someone from robbing a liquor store, it won't stop a husband from shooting his wife," Jennings said.
A customer in Jennings' shop, Steve Kreps, was visiting from Missouri, where concealed weapons permits are available to anyone properly trained.
Kreps said he thinks Californians are at a disadvantage because of "liberal" attitudes toward gun control.
"In Missouri, crime has gone down because criminals know that anyone could be carrying a gun," he said.
Kreps added that he sees the new law as a step in the direction of taking away all guns, and blames Nancy Pelosi.