In the Wake of Isla Vista, Jackson Introduces Bills To Require Gun Database Searches and Provide Funding to Enforce Existing Gun Laws

June 11, 2014

SACRAMENTO – Just weeks after the rampage in Isla Vista took the lives of six innocent people, State Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara) has introduced two additional bills designed to help prevent gun violence and save lives.
 
When checking in on a person who may be a danger to themselves or others, often referred to as a “welfare check,” Senate Bill 505 would require law enforcement to first conduct a search of the Department of Justice’s Automated Firearms System, California’s database of gun purchases, to find out whether the person in question may have purchased firearms, and how many. A search of this database can be done from computers in law enforcement vehicles or by phone. 
 
“In addition to instigating an important conversation about mental illness and gun violence, the tragedy in Isla Vista has also raised questions about law enforcement protocols,” said Jackson. “Right now, we seem to have a patchwork of inconsistent agency policy on database checks. This bill would create consistency and ensure that law enforcement agencies are using the tools available to them to gather potentially life-saving information for themselves and others.”
 
Although law enforcement may not have had the legal authority to seize Elliott Rodger’s three guns had they known about them, a gun database search could have provided additional information that might have helped them better assess the danger that Rodger posed to himself and others, Jackson said. Law enforcement could potentially have asked Rodger what he intended to do with the guns, asked to see the guns, or asked him to voluntarily surrender the guns.
 
“We will never know for sure if the outcome in Isla Vista might have been different with a gun database search,” Jackson said. “But the next time California experiences a similar tragedy, we shouldn’t be left wondering. Searches of the gun database can be done in as little as 90 seconds, and those 90 seconds can help save lives.”

“SB 505 is important legislation that would help reduce gun violence and protect the law enforcement officers who bravely serve communities throughout California,” said Juliet Leftwich, Legal Director of the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, an organization formed in the wake of the assault weapons massacre at 101 California Street in San Francisco.  “We applaud Senator Jackson for introducing the bill, which would bring much-needed uniformity in this area, and for her longstanding support for common sense laws to reduce gun-related deaths and injuries.”

In addition, Jackson is introducing Senate Bill 580 to provide additional funding for law enforcement to enforce existing guns laws. SB 580 would provide funding to take guns away from those who illegally possess them, update aging computer systems used to track gun ownership, and provide training on how to use the statewide database of gun purchases.
 
“Both of these bills are about making better use of the tools and the laws at hand to help prevent gun violence,” Jackson said.
 
“Law enforcement officials across the state have at their fingertips a useful tool that can help take firearms out of the hands of potentially dangerous Californians who are not lawfully allowed to possess guns due to a criminal conviction or mental health disorder,” said Senator Mark Leno, (D-San Francisco), a joint author of SB 580. “Improving the access to and efficiency of this database, as well as continuing to fortify our efforts to take these illegally owned weapons off the streets, is a critical step in our efforts to prevent gun violence.”
 
SB 580 would:

•    Provide $5,000,000 in grants to local law enforcement agencies to take guns away from those who currently illegally possess them. Currently, the Bureau of Firearms has identified 20,834 people with a prior criminal conviction or mental health disorder which disqualifies them from possessing more than 43,000 firearms. Every day, the list of armed prohibited persons in California grows by about 15 to 20 people.

•    Provide $10,000,000 over three years to improve the efficiency of the Department of Justice’s aging data systems, used to register gun ownership, conduct background checks, and monitor the possession of firearms by prohibited persons.

•    Provide $50,000 so that the Department of Justice can train local law enforcement on how to effectively use the Automated Firearms System, the centralized database of gun purchases.

“This case highlighted the need to consult these databases,” said Assemblymember Das Williams (D-Santa Barbara), who is a co-author of SB 580. “But, we need to make sure there’s adequate training so law enforcement can use those databases effectively.  SB 580 will provide the funding to do that.’
 
SB 505 is expected to be heard in the Assembly Public Safety Committee on June 24. A bill hearing for SB 580 has not yet been set.
 
Jackson represents the 19th Senate District, which includes all of Santa Barbara County and western Ventura County.

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Contact: Lisa Gardiner (916) 651-4019 lisa.gardiner@sen.ca.gov