2017 Legislation Passed in California
AB 7 – Long Gun Open Carry.
AB 785 – Disarm Hate Act.
AB 1525 – Firearm Information Act.
AB 424 – No Concealed Carry on K–12 School Grounds.
DETAILS OF EACH BILL TO FOLLOW HERE:
SB 536 – GVRO (Gun Violence Restraining Order) Research is considered to be possibly the most significant, life-saving firearm policy that we have helped to enact in California. California courts ordered people to temporarily give up possession of their firearms 86 times last year under the Gun Violence Restraining Order (GVRO). Research is an essential element in understanding and improving public policy. It is in the interest of public safety for qualified researchers to have data and information to adequately study the GVRO law in order to better analyze its use and effectiveness and inform any necessary changes. GVRO records are currently maintained by the Department of Justice in electronic format in the California Restraining and Protective Order System. By statute, law enforcement officers and other designated government officials have access to this database, but not academic researchers. California law does provide academics with access to criminal history records, but because Gun Violence Restraining Orders are civil court orders, that statute does not apply. SB 536 will enable researchers to have access to this database.
The new law, which took effect in 2016, allows family members or law enforcement officers to seek a “Gun Violence Restraining Order” against someone they believe poses an “immediate and present danger” of harming themselves or others. Generally, the suspension expires within 21 days, though in 10 cases last year, the judge held a hearing and extended the order to one year because they determined the individual was still a substantial threat.
Legislators proposed the gun violence restraining order in 2014, in the wake of a mass murder in the college town of Isla Vista where six individuals were killed by stabbing and shooting. Supporters, including the parents of slain students, argued the law would provide a tool to prevent future tragedies. (Local authorities had conducted a welfare check on the Isla Vista shooter after his parents raised concerns about his mental health.) But critics worried about officials stripping guns from people without good cause and violating the rights of individuals who have not yet committed a crime.
While Los Angeles County courts issued the most gun violence restraining orders in 2016, with 15, there was nearly as many in the much smaller Santa Barbara County, where Isla Vista is located. SB 536 will make information relating to Gun Violence Restraining Orders that is maintained in the California Restraining and Protective Order System, or any similar database maintained by the Department, available to researchers affiliated with the newly established University of California Firearm Violence Research Center, or, at the Department’s discretion, to other nonprofit educational institutions or public agencies focused on the study and prevention of violence, for academic and policy research purposes. Under the bill, privacy will be protected as any information identifying individuals may not be transferred, revealed, or used for other than research or statistical activities, and reports or publications may not identify specific individuals.
AB 7 – Long Gun Open Carry. Under existing statutes, exposed handguns cannot be carried in either incorporated or unincorporated areas in California and exposed long guns (rifles and shotguns) cannot be carried in incorporated areas. Carrying exposed firearms in crowded public places, often with ammunition readily available, is inappropriate and risky behavior that threatens public safety and strains law enforcement resources. As was recently seen in Charlottesville, Virginia, protesters armed with military-style rifles create challenges for law enforcement and intimidate others.
There are large, high crime, urban neighborhoods (such as Compton and East Los Angeles) that are unincorporated and therefore the open carry of unloaded long guns in these areas is permissible under existing law and has occurred. NOTE: Santa Barbara County has multiple unincorporated areas.
Those who carry exposed long guns in public are not required to undergo any special screening or clearance. In fact, there is no verification process to ensure that the person is not prohibited from possessing firearms.
The carrying of exposed long guns, which may include military-style weapons, in such urban settings is particularly inappropriate and threatening. AB 7 will rectify this situation by prohibiting the open carry of a long gun in a public place or a public street in a prohibited area of an unincorporated area of a county. Since County Boards of Supervisors currently determine prohibited areas within their jurisdiction (areas in which it is unlawful to discharge a firearm), AB 7 gives discretion on the carrying of exposed long guns in unincorporated areas to counties.
AB 785 – Disarm Hate Act. This Act will disarm misdemeanor hate crime offenders. Using force or a threat of force against a person, or damaging or defacing property, because of a person’s race, religion, national origin, disability, gender or sexual orientation harms not only the physical, but also the spiritual, social and economic health of families and communities. Such hate crimes often occur to threaten and terrorize members of historically vulnerable communities and, unfortunately, their frequency and viciousness are increasing. In California, the total number of hate crime events, offenses, victims, and suspects all increased in both 2015 and 2016. Hate crime events increased 11.2% from 2015 to 2016, with the biggest jump involving racial bias (21.3%). Hate crime offenses increased 12.6% from 2015 to 2016, including a 5.5% increase in violence crime offenses and a 26.4% increase in property crime offenses.
Between 2010 and 2014, approximately 43,000 hate crimes were committed in the United States involving the use or threatened use of a gun. Hate-motivated criminals with guns are particularly threatening as the firearm increases the intimidation and fear, as well as the potential lethality of an incident. Moreover, past violent criminal behavior is considered to be a predictor of subsequent acts of violence. In fact, research has found that Californians with a prior conviction for a violent misdemeanor are 9 times as likely to commit subsequent violent crimes and also 9 times as likely to commit subsequent firearm offenses. Furthermore, those who have committed hate crimes tend to escalate their conduct, so it is particularly important that hate-motivated criminals be disarmed.
AB 1525 – Firearm Information Act. Existing law requires certain warnings on the packaging of any firearm and descriptive materials that accompany a firearm sold or transferred in California by a licensed manufacturer or licensed dealer. Existing law also requires specified warnings to be posted by a gun dealer. AB 536 will update the warning, including with language that will direct firearm purchasers and other customers to the California Department of Justice Bureau of Firearms website to obtain more information on California’s current firearm laws, regulations and penalties. This same new language will also be included in the instruction manual developed by the Department and must be provided to an applicant for a firearm safety certificate, who must acknowledge receipt. Additionally, the applicant must acknowledge receipt of warning information indicating that it is generally a crime to sell or give a firearm to someone without conducting the transfer through a licensed firearm dealer.
AB 424 – No Concealed Carry on K–12 School Grounds. Removes School Authorities’ Discretion on allowing those with CCW permits to carry on K-12 school grounds. Existing law makes it a crime to possess a firearm in a place that the person knows, or reasonably should know, is a school zone, unless it is with the written permission of the school district superintendent, his or her designee, or equivalent school authority. This bill would delete the authority of a school district superintendent, his or her designee, or equivalent school authority to provide written permission for a person to possess a firearm within a school zone. By expanding the scope of a crime, the bill would create a state-mandated local program. The bill would exempt from that crime the activities of a program involving shooting sports or activities that are sanctioned by a school, school district, college, university, or other governing body of the institution, as specified, and the activities of a certified hunter education program, as specified. The bill would make other conforming changes to related provisions.