Action Alert! A.B. 809: The Crime Gun Tracing Improvement Act

The Coalition Against Gun Violence is extremely pleased to inform you that AB 809, the Crime Gun Tracing Improvement Act, was passed by both the California Senate and Assembly. It now goes to Governor Brown’s desk, hopefully for his signature. It is critically important that we send letters of support by Monday 9/19 or Tuesday 9/20 of next week. We have been advised that snail mail letters are best. A sample letter is below, however you are encouraged to write in your own words, therefore also below are the important points to cover. If you choose to send the prepared letter, please insert the date at the top, and either add your name and address or delete those lines before printing the letter.

If you prefer to contact the governor via email, please visit this link: http://gov.ca.gov/m_contact.php

Fill out the form. Select “gun control” as your subject. There is a box to check for a reply. When you click on “submit” a large box will come up in which you may put your comments. Be sure to click on the button that says PRO, then send.

We emphatically encourage you to forward this email to your family, friends and co-workers. It has taken us 3 years to get this legislation to the desk of the governor. We may not have another opportunity. We know you will appreciate the urgency of taking action immediately.

Sample Letter

Date

(Your name
Address
City, CA Zip)

The Honorable Jerry Brown
Governor of California
c/o State Capitol, Suite 1173
Sacramento, CA 95814

RE: AB 809 (Feuer) Crime Gun Tracing Improvement Act — SUPPORT

Dear Governor Brown,

I write to request your signature on Assembly Bill 809, which seeks to safeguard California’s communities by retaining the purchase and transfer records of all firearms in California. AB 809 will save the lives of law enforcement officers by requiring the preservation of records for long guns (rifles and shotguns) sold or transferred in California after January 1, 2013.

A one-time cost for software development and additional data storage will be funded by the $4 million Dealer’s Record of Sale (DROS) account, which accrues an annual surplus that must be spent on Department of Justice (DOJ) firearms-related regulatory and enforcement activities. The on-going record maintenance will be self-supporting through DROS fees.

AB 809 will significantly help law enforcement efforts investigate and prosecute gun crimes, quickly identify and disarm dangerous felons, domestic abusers, and persons with severe mental illness who are prohibited from possessing firearms. It will also help law enforcement return lost or stolen guns through identification. Mandatory destruction of long gun records hampers law enforcement efforts to resolve gun crimes, issue domestic violence warrants and seize illegally possessed guns.

By the DOJ only retaining handgun records, law enforcement is hampered. This can potentially put officers in jeopardy when responding to a call at a home or serving a domestic violence warrant. They must access the Automated Firearm System (AFS) database to be forewarned of the likelihood of encountering weapons. Officers need to be provided better information regarding the potential firearms they might face. Many long guns put officers at greater risk because of their fire power and ability to shoot through protective vests.

Additionally, AB 809 would enable better tracing of long guns that are illegally trafficked into Mexico through California. It would expose the California to Mexico trafficking channels.

Significantly more long guns than handguns are purchased annually in California and data from the DOJ shows that over half the guns recovered from armed and prohibited persons are long guns.

Long guns play a significant role in our gun violence epidemic. Over the past several years, DOJ sweeps to seize illegally possessed firearms have uncovered roughly equal numbers of illegal handguns and long guns. In 2010, Californians purchased 260,573 long guns, significantly more than the 233,346 handguns acquired in the same period. Each year in California, over 7,500 people are shot by firearms – and nearly half of them die from their injuries.

I support AB 809 as it seeks to prevent gun violence by providing law enforcement with the information needed to protect themselves and the community. Thank you for considering my support of AB 809, the Crime Gun Tracing Improvement Act.

Sincerely,

(Your name)

 

AB 809 – Important Points

  • DOJ (Department of Justice) reports that there would be one-time costs of approximately $509,000 over two years to implement AB 809.
  • These costs would be for software development and additional data storage.
  • The costs would be funded by the DROS (Dealer Record of Sale) Special Account, which contains approximately $4 million and accrues an annual surplus.
  • This account is supported by fees on firearm sales and must be spent on DOJ firearms-related regulatory and enforcement activities.
  • The ongoing maintenance of long gun records would be self-supporting by DROS fees (currently $19 for a handgun and $19 for one or more rifles or shotguns).
  • AB 809 will help law enforcement efforts to investigate and prosecute gun crimes. Of the 26,682 crime guns entered into the AFS (Automated Firearms System) database, 11,500 were long guns.
  • AB 809 will help law enforcement seize illegally possessed guns. Long gun records will help law enforcement identify all guns – not just handguns – owned by persons prohibited by law from possessing firearms, such as felons, domestic abusers and person with severe mental illness.
  • AB 809 will help law enforcement return lost or stolen guns through identification.
  • AB 809 will protect law enforcement officers responding to a call at a residence or serving a warrant by using the AFS database to check whether to be alert for any firearms, not merely handguns. Long guns are more lethal and put officers at greater risk.
  • AB 809 would enable better tracing of long guns that are illegally trafficked into Mexico. It would expose the California to Mexico trafficking channels. During a three year period (2006-2008), over 90% of the firearms seized in Mexico and traced came from the United States.

Toni Wellen is the chair of the Santa Barbara Coalition Against Gun Violence. She lives in Carpinteria.

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