The California State Senate on Friday unanimously passed a gun-violence-related law enforcement bill that was sponsored by state Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson, so the legislation now goes to Gov. Jerry Brown's office.
Senate Bill 505 would make law enforcement agencies develop policies for conducting welfare checks on individuals who could be considered a danger to themselves or others.
The bill was reintroduced in response to the Isla Vista shooting and stabbing massacre, which took the lives of seven people.
Law enforcement officers made a welfare check on the perpetrator, Elliot Rodger, about three weeks before the May 23 rampage, but didn't check any gun databases — which would have revealed he had recently purchased three guns.
"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 in a statement.
“We will never know for sure if the outcome in Isla Vista might have been different with a gun database search. 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.”
The legislation originally made it a requirement for police to check the Automated Firearm System database before conducting welfare checks.
The amended bill retreats to an encouragement position, only requiring the check if the information can be “ascertained through reasonable efforts.”
Jackson, D-Santa Barbara, said the change in language is only to provide flexibility, but that she is confident law enforcement agencies will adopt the policies the bill calls for, including the database checks, until they become routine practice.
“I've worked with law enforcement, and I have every belief they will implement this bill to its greatest effect,” Jackson told Noozhawk. “Frankly, I don't care if its a 'may' or a 'shall.' It's about whether they're going to do it and I believe they will.”
The State Senate decision arrives on the heels of the bill's recent support by the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors with a 3-2 vote.
Fifth District County Supervisor Steve Lavagnino, who opposed the bill at Tuesday's meeting, said he felt the amended bill lost too much of its steam, especially in the absence of Senate Bill 580, the other bill Jackson sponsored that was meant to streamline statewide databases.
“I think the guts have really been taken out of this bill,” he said. “I liked (SB 580) much better, or combined together. ... I don't want to go against what our own Sheriff's Department has come up with.”
Though SB 505 was first introduced in 2013, the Isla Vista mass murder reintroduced the issue of gun safety and law enforcement legislation.
Brown has until Sept. 30 to take action on the bill.