CA State Capitol Building

The Law Center is tracking numerous gun violence prevention measures that have made their way through the California Legislature this year.  The Law Center supports four bills that are currently on the Governor’s desk to improve public safety, including AB 1014, which would create a new “Gun Violence Restraining Order” procedure.  The Governor has already signed two gun safety bills into law and four bills introduced to weaken the state’s gun laws were defeated in the legislature earlier this year.

The complete text of all California bills can be found at http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov.  For a full description of existing laws to reduce gun violence in California, visit our summary of California gun laws.

For more information on the status of bills in other states, visit our 2014 summary of gun bills nationwide.bills-signed-into-law

AB 1964 (Dickenson): Closing the “Single-Shot Exemption” Loophole –  California law requires that all semiautomatic handgun models sold in the state be certified as not unsafe by the Department of Justice after meeting certain required safety standards.  Prior law included an exception for so-called “single shot” pistols that could be temporarily modified to not fire on a semiautomatic basis in order to circumvent California’s safety standards.  AB 1964 closes that loophole by clarifying that the unsafe handgun law applies to semiautomatic pistols that have been temporarily or permanently altered so that they will not fire in a semiautomatic mode.

Law Center Position:  Support

Status: This bill was signed by the Governor on July 18, 2014.

AB 1591 (Archadjian):  Court Notifications – Under current law, courts are required to notify the California Department of Justice if they make a determination about a person’s mental state which would prohibit him or her from possessing a gun under California law.  AB 1591 will speed up this process by requiring such notifications to be made within one court day.

Law Center Position:  Support

Status: This bill was signed by the Governor on July 18, 2014.pending-legislation

AB 1014 (Skinner): Gun Violence Restraining Order (GVRO) – This bill, which is modeled on California’s existing domestic violence restraining order laws, would establish a procedure to allow concerned family members or law enforcement officers to petition a court for a Gun Violence Restraining Order (GVRO). In situations where there is sufficient evidence for a judge to believe that an individual poses a danger to self or others, the GVRO would temporarily limit the individual from purchasing or possessing firearms or ammunition and would allow law enforcement to remove any firearms or ammunition already in his or her possession. To avoid the potential for abuse of this new procedure, the bill would create penalties for anyone who files a petition intending to harass the named individual or knowing that any of the information provided in the petition is false.

Law Center Position:  Support

Status:  This bill passed the California Legislature on August 29, and is now on the Governor’s desk.

SB 505 (Jackson):  Police Welfare Checks – This bill would require law enforcement agencies in California to develop and implement written policies and standard protocols pertaining to the best manner to conduct a check on the welfare of a citizen when such check is motivated by a concern that the individual may be a danger to himself or herself or to others.  The bill would also require those policies to encourage a peace officer, prior to conducting a welfare check, and whenever possible and reasonable, to conduct a search of the Department of Justice Automated Firearms System to determine whether the person is the registered owner of any firearms.

Law Center Position:  Support

Status:  This bill passed the California Legislature on August 22 is now on the Governor’s desk.

AB 1609 (Alejo): Transfer of Firearms Purchased Out of State – Currently, federal law makes it illegal to purchase a handgun outside of California and bring it into the state unless the firearm is shipped to a licensed dealer in California to complete the transaction.  Federal law also requires that any dealer outside of California selling a long gun to a California resident who has traveled to another state to purchase a long gun comply with all California laws in completing the transaction.

However, federal authorities do not have the resources to enforce existing laws and California has no state law governing these transactions at all.  This bill would require all firearms purchased outside of California by California residents intending to possess those firearms in California to be shipped to a licensed dealer in California in order to complete the transaction.  The California dealer making the transfer would have to comply with all California requirements including, among others, the completion of a background check, complying with the 10-day waiting period, and ensuring that the purchaser has a valid firearm safety certificate.

Law Center Position:  Support

Status:  This bill passed the California Legislature on August 28, and is now on the Governor’s desk.

AB 2310 (Ridley-Thomas): Unlawful Detainer Actions – This bill would extend a pilot program that allows city prosecutors or city attorneys to bring unlawful detainer actions (which lead to an eviction) against tenants to abate a nuisance caused by illegal conduct involving unlawful weapons or ammunition.  In addition to Los Angeles County, AB 2310 would extend the program to both Sacramento County and Alameda County, and would run through January 1, 2019.  The idea behind the pilot program is to give local law enforcement a method to evict unlawful and potentially dangerous tenants when landlords may be unwilling to act for fear of retaliation.

Law Center Position:  Support

Status: This bill passed the California Legislature on August 25 and is now on the Governor’s desk.

SB 199 (De Leon): Imitation Guns  The purpose of SB 199 is to prevent the misidentification of imitation guns as lethal weapons.  The bill would add BB devices and air guns to the definition of imitation guns and would require the entire exterior of the device to be brightly colored or made of transparent or translucent materials which permit observation of the device’s complete contents.

Law Center Position:  Neutral

Status:  This bill passed the California Legislature on August 28 and is now on the Governor’s desk.

SB 808 (De Leon): Registration of Home-Assembled Firearms – This bill would require all home-assembled firearms to be registered with the California Department of Justice.  This registration requirement would cover firearms produced using three-dimensional printers as well as firearms assembled by individuals using “80% assembled lower receivers.”

Law Center Position:  Neutral

Status:  This bill passed the California Legislature on August 29 and is now on the Governor’s desk.

AB 2506 (Salas):  Correctional Medical Technicians – This bill would allow the Secretary of the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to designate medical technical assistant employees as peace officers, which would allow such employees to carry firearms while off duty.

Law Center Position:  Neutral

Status:  This bill passed the California Legislature on August 14 and is now on the Governor’s desk.

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SB 53 (De Leon): Ammunition Purchase Permitting – SB 53—the Law Center’s priority bill for 2014—would have required ammunition sellers to be licensed by DOJ.  In completing an ammunition sale, a vendor would have been required to record identifying information about the purchaser, and submit that information to DOJ.  The bill would have also required ammunition sales to be completed in face-to-face transactions.  The bill would have allowed online purchases of ammunition so long as the ammunition purchased was shipped to a licensed ammunition seller to complete the transaction.

Law Center Position:  Support

Status:  This bill did not pass out of the Assembly.

SB 580 (Jackson):  Law Enforcement Funding – This bill would have provided a total of $15 million in additional funding to California law enforcement agencies to improve enforcement of California’s existing gun laws.  First, the bill would have provided $5 million in grants to local law enforcement agencies to improve efforts to take away firearms from those who possess them illegally.  Currently, the Bureau of Firearms has identified 20,834 people with a prior criminal conviction or mental health disorder which disqualifies them from possessing firearms.  Every day, the list of armed prohibited persons in California grows by about 15 to 20 people.  The bill would also have provided $10 million over three years to improve the efficiency of the Department of Justice’s data systems, used to record gun purchases, conduct background checks, and monitor the possession of firearms by prohibited persons.  Finally, the bill would have provided $50,000 for training local law enforcement officers in the use of California’s Automated Firearms Systems, which is a centralized database of firearm purchases made in the state.

Law Center Position:  Support

Status:  This bill failed to pass the Assembly Appropriations Committee.

AB 2305 (Ridley-Thomas):  Carrying Firearms – Under current law, it is generally illegal to carry a concealed handgun “upon” a person except for persons who possess licenses to carry such weapons.  This bill would have replaced the word “upon” with the phrase “on or about.”  This is important because the current wording—“upon,” makes it unclear whether a person carrying a loaded handgun in a backpack or handbag is in violation of the law.  This bill would have ensured that all carrying of concealed handguns without a permit is prohibited no matter how the weapon is carried.

Law Center Position:  Support

Status: This bill failed to pass the Assembly Appropriations Committee.

SB 293 (DeSaulnier): Owner-Authorized Handguns – Owner-authorized handguns are equipped with biometric readers or other technologies that prevent unauthorized users from firing them.  SB 293 would have required that, two years after at least two owner-authorized handguns have been added to the roster of handguns certified for sale in California, no additional handguns could have been added to the roster without incorporating owner-authorized technology.

Law Center Position:  Support

Status:  This bill failed to pass the Assembly Appropriations Committee.

SB 47 (Yee): Closing the “Bullet Button” Loophole – SB 47 would have closed a loophole in California’s assault weapon ban that allows semiautomatic rifles with military-style features to be sold in California without being considered assault weapons because of an overly narrow regulatory definition of “detachable magazines.”   Under that definition, a gun is not considered to have a detachable magazine even when the magazine can be easily detached by a small tool, such as a bullet.  SB 47 would have closed that loophole by clarifying that any semiautomatic rifle with one of the ban’s listed military-style features is an assault weapon unless it has a completely fixed magazine.

Law Center Position:  Support

Status:  This bill failed to pass the Assembly Appropriations Committee.

AB 2314 (Hall):  Probation Officers – Under current law, probation officers may receive firearms training and be armed with firearms if deemed appropriate by their supervisors.  This bill would have required training and arming any probation officer who works with offenders deemed “high risk.”

Law Center Position:  Neutral

Status:  This bill failed to pass out of the Senate Public Safety Committee.

SB 1456 (Nielsen):  Assault Weapons Ban Exemptions – This bill would have exempted the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection from the assault weapons ban and the ban on fifty caliber rifles.

Law Center Position:  Neutral

Status:  This bill failed to pass out of the Senate Appropriations Committee.

SB 1354 (Knight):  Assault Weapons Permits – Under existing California law, the Department of Justice has the discretion to issue permits to possess assault weapons and fifty caliber rifles to certain law enforcement officers.  This bill would have required that the Department of Justice make a decision on applications for such permits within 90 days of when they are submitted.

Law Center Position:  Neutral

Status: This bill failed to pass out of the Senate Appropriations Committee.

AB 1985 (Donnelly):  Assault Weapons Ban Exemptions – This bill would have exempted federal corrections agencies from the state ban on assault weapons and .50 caliber rifles.

Law Center Position:  Neutral

Status:  This bill failed in the Assembly Public Safety Committee.

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SB 1223 (Wright): Advertising Prohibited Weapons – Existing California law makes it a crime to advertise for sale any weapon that is illegal to possess under California law, such as an assault weapon.  SB 1223 would have clarified that such advertising is only illegal where it is intended to be sold to a person who is prohibited from owning such firearms.  Thus, under SB 1223, it would have been legal to advertise such firearms if they were intended to be sold to persons who are exempt from such possession bans.

Law Center Position:  Oppose

Status: This bill was not assigned by the Senate Rules Committee.

AB 1545 (Gray): Firearm Transfers – This bill would have allowed the transfer of firearms between private parties without going through a licensed dealer.  AB 1545 would have required the person receiving the firearm to send information to the Department of Justice to allow a background check to be completed.  DOJ would have been required to maintain a copy of these records.

Law Center Position:  Oppose

Status:  This bill failed in the Assembly Public Safety Committee.

SB 916 (Correa): Unsafe Handgun Act Roster – Under existing California law, all handguns sold in the state must possess certain safety features (for example, being able to pass a ‘drop test,’ having a chamber load indicator, and recently, microstamping technology).  In order to ensure that each handgun model sold in the state possesses these features, the Department of Justice conducts testing of each new handgun model to ensure compliance.  If a handgun model passes the testing process, DOJ will put it on a roster of handguns that are certified for sale in California.

Subject to certain exceptions, all handguns that are sold in California must be on the roster.  Once a handgun is on the roster, the manufacturer must pay a small yearly fee in order for its handgun models to remain rostered.  Over the years, new safety features have been added to the law for new handgun models placed on the roster, however existing models usually do not need to comply with requirements added after they were already placed on the roster.

This bill would have done three things:

(1) It would have allowed a handgun manufacturer whose model falls off the roster for any reason other than failing testing to return that same model to the roster without submitting it for retesting and satisfying all the current safety requirements for new handgun models.

(2) Under existing law, certain cosmetic changes to handguns (for example, changing the finish on the handle) do not count as creating a “new model” for purposes of the roster.  This bill would have expanded that exemption to include any other “minor” change to a handgun model.

(3) The bill also would have allowed any dealer who possesses handguns of a model that falls off the roster to sell those guns within 30 days.

Law Center Position:  Oppose

Status: This bill failed in the Senate Public Safety Committee.

AB  1563 (Donnelly): Concealed Carry Permits – Under California law, a local law enforcement agency “may” issue an individual a license to carry a concealed firearm only after finding that the applicant: 1) has good cause to receive a license; 2) has completed a firearms safety course; 3) is not prohibited from possessing firearms; and 4) is of good moral character.  The “good cause” requirement empowers local law enforcement agencies to deny applications for concealed carry licenses where applicants fail to demonstrate any particularized need to carry loaded firearms in public places.

AB 1563 would have eliminated the good cause and good moral character requirements and simply allowed anyone not prohibited from possessing firearms and who had completed a training course of eight hours or less to carry hidden, loaded handguns anywhere in the state.  The bill would have also taken authority away from local law enforcement to issue permits to carry concealed weapons and would have instead given it to the Department of Justice.

Law Center Position:  Oppose

Status:  This bill failed in the Assembly Public Safety Committee.