Two bills by state Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson, D-Santa Barbara, to help prevent gun violence in the wake of the Isla Vista rampage passed out the Assembly Public Safety Committee on Tuesday.
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.
The bill passed out of committee on a bipartisan, 7-0 vote.
The second Jackson bill, Senate Bill 580, would provide additional funding for law enforcement to enforce existing guns laws. It passed out of the Assembly Public Safety on a 5-0 vote. 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.
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, as required by SB 505, could have provided additional information that might have helped them better assess the danger that Rodger posed to himself and others. 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.
The bill has the support of the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence and the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office, among others.
“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 580 would:
» Provide $5,000,000 in funding 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-Carpinteria, 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.’
Both bills now head to the Assembly Appropriations Committee.
Jackson represents the 19th Senate District, which includes all of Santa Barbara County and western Ventura County.
— Lisa Gardiner is the communications director for state Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson.