Barry Bahrami went from incredulous to angry last month when California Gov. Jerry Brown signed a batch of firearms control laws known collectively as “Gunmageddon.”
Then, the San Diego-based CEO became determined to fight back against the laws, which take aim at so-called assault weapons, enforce ammunition background checks, mostly take effect Jan. 1 and outlaw the possession of high-capacity magazines and ban the "bullet buttons" that already require a tool to release the magazine, instead advocating that the rifle is partially disassembled, and that any rifle with a detachable magazine will be defined as an assault weapon.
"These laws are completely insane to almost anyone with a real knowledge of firearms, and I did not think Gov. Brown would sign them," Bahrami told FoxNews.com. "Many California gun owners are still unaware they will be criminals soon."
The all-Democratic team of bill sponsors proudly christened the new legislation with its apocalyptic moniker, but Bahrami vowed that voters will have the final word. He and other Second Amendment stalwarts have organized 1,600 volunteers across the Golden State with the goal of garnering 365,880 signatures -- although ideally they would like to get far more than that to ensure validity before submitting -- for each of seven referendum petitions to get on the Nov. 8 ballot.
If they succeed, and they must have the signatures by the end of next month, they will put gun rights in the center of the presidential election. And if they win at the ballot box, they will overturn the nation’s newest and most far-reaching gun control laws and negate a somewhat redundant set of gun control measures already set for a referendum even though the laws they provide for are largely in effect.
"It comes down to this: get enough signatures on paper from registered voters in an insanely short period of time and the law will go on the ballot for voters to decide,” Bahrami said. “It is a simple 'yes' or 'no' and majority wins. To my knowledge, the option has never been exercised to this scale before... I had to get the ball rolling."
“Veto Gunmageddon” activists have so far set up hundreds of tables outside supermarkets, along busy sidewalks and at gun stores and shooting ranges. They have placed signature collection boxes at local stores, tattoo parlors and dental offices. In addition to thousands of autographs, they collected nearly $60,000 to cover printing and other costs and seen their volunteer ranks swell.
Already set for the Nov. 8 vote is a set of gun control proposals from a group headed by Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom that basically mirror the laws Brown signed. Critics say Brown and legislative leaders on one side, and Newsom on another, were trying to get their anti-gun measures enacted first, and Newsom’s group carried on with Proposition 63, known as “Safety for All,” even after Brown signed the bills.
Supporters of Newsom’s initiative -- which include groups such as Women Against Gun Violence, California Federation of Teachers and the California American College of Physicians -- contend that the proposition would keep guns and ammunition out of the wrong hands by closing loopholes in existing laws and protect the rights of law-abiding citizens to own guns for self-defense, hunting and recreation.
"Safety For All" spokesperson Dan Newman said they "welcome a vote of the people on the issue of gun safety."
"That is why Lt. Gov. Newsom took Prop 63 to the ballot -- it's the best way to make serious progress to save lives," he told FoxNews.com. "The veto movement only underscores how important it is to give voters a chance to stand up to the NRA and take bold action to reduce gun violence."
As many as one-fifth of California's 35 million citizens are believed to own at least one firearm, although estimates vary. The sweeping new laws – both those signed by Brown and those proposed by Newsom’s group – puts them in the crosshairs, according to Sam Parades, executive director of Gun Owners of California.
"The end game is to disarm everyone -- rich, poor and those in-between,” Parades said. “It is easier to go after an inanimate object than human behavior."
A representative for Gov. Brown declined to comment on the Veto Gunmageddon campaign.
Bahrami declined to give specifics on how many signatures they have acquired to-date. The group is confident, he said, but added, "we don't have it in the bag until it is in the bag."