A bill that would create some of the strictest laws on gun storage in the country is about to be voted on in the California Assembly.
Senate Bill 172 will change many laws. The law of not safely storing a loaded firearm in a residence with a child will be expanded to include unloaded firearms and will be made into a criminal offense punishable by the convicted not being allowed to own a firearm for ten years. Likewise, the current law of keeping a handgun in a place that a child or someone who cannot legally own a gun can easily get to, has been expanded to include all firearms, and also carries a ten year ban on owning guns.
That same ten year ban also applies to owners of a residence storing a firearm if they know that another resident there is legally prohibited from owning one.
In addition, the bill authorizes temporary transfers of weapons without a firearms dealer being present in cases of suicide prevention and sets additional regulations for guns and ammunition stored at residential care facilities for adults, those with chronic injury, and the elderly.
Senator Anthony Portantino (D–La Cañada Flintridge), who has a long history of enacting and voting for gun control legislation, has stated that he has backed SB 172 to prevent gun accidents at home, and to prevent gun violence and shootings.
“It just makes sense to me to make sure gun owners properly and safely store their weapons,” Portantino announced earlier this year. “Statistics don’t lie, and home gun accidents occur far too often, and the State of California needs to act.”
“Preventing gun violence has always been a priority of mine and I will continue to fight to ensure that California is a safe place. Everyday, we seem to read about terrible gun tragedies as innocent lives are taken from families and loved ones. It is my hope that these bills can prevent some of these horrendous situations.”
Many gun safety advocates and family groups, such as Consumer Advocates for RCFE Reform (CARR), have also been in favor of the bill, citing the need to protect children and the elderly.
In the statehouse, voting on the bill has been largely split across party lines. In May, the bill passed the Senate 26-9 , and has faced continual ‘no’ votes in the subsequent Assembly committees.
The bill has drawn heavy criticism from many gun rights groups such as the NRA, who say that the laws being proposed give harsh penalties. Many gun owners and supporters of the second amendment have also voiced their displeasure of the bill.
“It’s nuts,” said Jeremy, who has worked at gun stores in San Bernardino County and Riverside County. “You are deprived of protecting yourself for ten years, a decade, simply because some person saw a gun out at the wrong time. A simple mistake.”
“The thing is, safety is big for gun owners. What this will do is punish responsible owners who had a brief lapse of judgement. These may seem to be “common sense”, but they aren’t. What it is is just another set of laws saying that all gun owners are irresponsible, and that a simple mistake or misunderstanding can cost you being without a gun for ten years.”
SB 172 is joined in the Assembly docket by Sen. Portantino’s firearm transfer bill, SB-61, which would limit Californians to buying one gun a month. Both face a vote in the Assembly this week.