Gun Owners of California issued a dire warning this week about “pre-crime” legislation to prohibit people likely to commit a crime from owning a gun.
SB 55 by Sen. Hannah Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara), would create a new class of non-violent misdemeanors that would result in a 10-year prohibition on firearms possession. The key theory is that firearm injury and death will be reduced if guns are kept out of the hands of people who, based on their condition or past behavior, are determined to be at risk of future acts of violence.
“According to the author: California law seeks to remove firearms from the possession of people likely to misuse them. There are several classes of people from whom firearms are taken including felons, people addicted to narcotics, the mentally ill, and persons subject to a protective order. Included also are people who commit certain misdemeanors.”
“The purpose of this bill is to add alcohol and drug crimes to the list of misdemeanors that result in a 10-year prohibition on firearms possession,” the bill analysis says.
Existing law already says that anyone convicted of a felony, anyone addicted to a narcotic drug, any juvenile convicted of a violent crime with a gun and tried in adult court is prohibited from owning or possessing a firearm for life.
“There’s some unnerving technology out there that brings Tom Cruise’s futuristic movie into a frightening focus – and far closer to reality than we want,” Gun Owners of CA says.
Sen. Jackson’s bill would add misdemeanor offenses to those for which a conviction results in a 10-year prohibition on possession of a firearm. The bill analysis explains:
This bill specifies that any person who has been convicted of misdemeanor violations of 2 or more of any of the following offenses, or convicted of 2 or more misdemeanor violations of any one of the following offenses, within a 3-year period, and who, within 10 years of the second conviction, owns, purchases, receives, or has in their possession or under custody or control, any firearm, is guilty of a misdemeanor:
1) Possession of specified controlled substances with intent to sell.
2) Gross vehicular manslaughter, while intoxicated.
3) Disorderly conduct, public intoxication.
4) Driving under the influence.
“Pre-Crime” is a 2017 documentary which shows how police departments around the world are partnering with private companies to use public data, personal information and algorithms to predict where illegal actions are most likely to occur and, crucially, who is most likely to commit them, Salon.com reports.
In an interview with German directors of “Pre-Crime,” Matthias Heeder and Monika Hielscher, they said: “We once had lists in Nazi Germany — lists with names. Those lists were made by humans. Now we have lists made by computers.”
“There’s a list in Chicago with 1,500 people on it,” they said. “They are under surveillance by the police who say, ‘We know you are in danger of committing a crime. There is a special algorithm that calculates the risk of you committing a crime.'”
According to the filmmakers, there are already “pre-crime” predictive police programs in Fresno, Philadelphia, Chicago, and in England, Kent and London.
In 2016, the California Legislature created the University of California Firearm Violence Research Center which claims, “Firearm violence is a significant health and social problem in California and across the United States.” The bill relies heavily on research from the UCFC, which works with the Violence Prevention Re-search Program.
The Armed and Prohibited Persons System
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra filed his 47th lawsuit against President Donald Trump recently, yet he has 23,222 backlogged cases in the Armed Prohibited Persons System. SB 55 bill analysis claims the APPS system is backlogged because of budget shortfalls, “as DOJ has limited resources to investigate and seize firearms from persons on the list.”
SB 55 would add additional individuals to the Armed and Prohibited Persons System list, increasing the California Department of Justice workload by requiring additional initial reviews of new matches and, ultimately, requiring additional investigations and operations to seize firearms and ammunition.
California has the most extensive and intrusive gun control laws in the country. The author of AJR 5, Assemblyman Reggie Jones-Sawyer (D-Los Angeles), a resolution telling the federal government to use California’s gun control laws as a template to pass federal legislation on universal gun control laws, claims gun violence and gun-related deaths over the past 25 years have dropped in California because of the many strict gun control laws.
“Yet those laws have failed to prevent mass murders and acts of terrorism,” Sam Paredes, Executive Director of Gun Owners of California, said in an interview in March with California Globe. “Asking Congress to use California gun control laws as federal laws would guarantee failures on a nationwide basis.”
The DOJ has been provided with several one-time appropriations increasing the APPS program budget, and has failed to produce results. By the end of 2018, the DOJ had already spent $62.5 million on APPS enforcement since 2013. And yet there was still a backlog of 10,226 known prohibited persons potentially in possession of guns from the 2013 cases.
Funding for a new program “with a hefty taxpayer price tag,” would likely be better used on the APPS backlog, which continues to grow – largely a result of Proposition 47, Proposition 57, and A.B. 109, which reduced a host of felonies to misdemeanors, allowed early release for newly redefined “non-violent offenders,” and shifted responsibility of repeat, newly classified “nonviolent” offenders from state prisons to county jails, as well as releasing others assigned to county probation officers rather than state parole officers. “Do the math,” Sen. Jim Nielsen (R-Gerber) said. “Forty thousand used to be in custody. Tens of thousands used to be on parole and used to be supervised – and now they are getting away with it.”
Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed Senate Bill 755, a similar bill. In his veto message he said, “This bill adds substance-abuse offenses and court orders to undergo mental health outpatient treatment to criteria that result in a 10-year prohibition on firearms possession. I am not persuaded that it is necessary to bar gun ownership on the basis of crimes that are nonfelonies, non-violent and do not involve misuse of a firearm.”
Notably, the ACLU opposes SB 55.