BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



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          SENATE THIRD READING
          SB 819 (Leno)
          As Amended  April 14, 2011
          Majority vote 

           SENATE VOTE  :22-16  
           
           PUBLIC SAFETY       5-2         APPROPRIATIONS      12-5        
           
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          |Ayes:|Ammiano, Cedillo, Hill,   |Ayes:|Fuentes, Blumenfield,     |
          |     |Mitchell, Skinner         |     |Bradford, Charles         |
          |     |                          |     |Calderon, Campos, Davis,  |
          |     |                          |     |Gatto, Hall, Hill, Lara,  |
          |     |                          |     |Mitchell, Solorio         |
          |     |                          |     |                          |
          |-----+--------------------------+-----+--------------------------|
          |Nays:|Knight, Hagman            |Nays:|Harkey, Donnelly,         |
          |     |                          |     |Nielsen, Norby, Wagner    |
          |     |                          |     |                          |
           ----------------------------------------------------------------- 
           SUMMARY :   Provides that the Department of Justice (DOJ) may use 
          dealer record of sale (DROS) funds for costs associated with its 
          firearms-related regulatory and enforcement activities regarding 
          the possession, as well as the sale, purchase, loan, or 
          transfer, of firearms, as specified.  Specifically,  this bill  :

          1)Authorizes the using the DOJ purchaser fee to fund the DOJ's 
            firearms-related regulatory and enforcement activities related 
            to the possession of firearms.  

          2)Makes the following findings and declarations:  

             a)   California is the first and only state in the nation to 
               establish an automated system for tracking handgun and 
               assault weapon owners who might fall into a prohibited 
               status;

             b)   DOJ is required to maintain an online database, which is 
               currently known as the "Armed Prohibited Persons System" 
               (APPS), which cross-references all handgun and assault 
               weapon owners across the state against criminal history 
               records to determine persons who have been, or will become, 
               prohibited from possessing a firearm subsequent to the 








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               legal acquisition or registration of a firearm or assault 
               weapon;

             c)   The DOJ is further required to provide authorized law 
               enforcement agencies with inquiry capabilities and 
               investigative assistance to determine the prohibition 
               status of a person of interest;

             d)   Each day, the list of armed prohibited persons in 
               California increases by about 15 to 20 people.  There are 
               currently more than 18,000 armed prohibited persons in 
               California. Collectively, these individuals are believed to 
               be in possession of over 34,000 handguns and 1,590 assault 
               weapons.  The illegal possession of these firearms presents 
               a substantial danger to public safety;

             e)   Neither the DOJ nor local law enforcement has sufficient 
               resources to confiscate the enormous backlog of weapons, 
               nor can they keep up with the daily influx of newly 
               prohibited persons;

             f)   A DROS fee is imposed upon every sale or transfer of a 
               firearm by a dealer in California.  Existing law authorizes 
               the DOJ to utilize these funds for firearms-related 
               regulatory and enforcement activities related to the sale, 
               purchase, loan, or transfer of firearms pursuant to any 
               provision listed in Penal Code Section 16580, but not 
               expressly for the enforcement activities related to 
               possession; and, 

             g)   Rather than placing an additional burden on the 
               taxpayers of California to fund enhanced enforcement of the 
               existing armed prohibited persons program, it is the intent 
               of the Legislature in enacting this bill to allow the DOJ 
               to utilize the DROS Account for the additional, limited 
               purpose of funding enforcement of the APPS.

           EXISTING LAW  :

          1)States that it shall be unlawful for any person to sell or 
            otherwise dispose of any firearm or ammunition to persons if 
            that person is under indictment or has been convicted of 
            specified crimes, is under a restraining order, has been 
            committed to a mental institution, and other specified 








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            disqualifying factors.  

          2)Requires that persons who sell, lease, or transfer firearms be 
            licensed by California.  

          3)Sets forth a series of requirements to be state licensed by 
            DOJ, which provides that to be recognized as state licensed, a 
            person must be on a centralized list of gun dealers and allows 
            access to the centralized list by authorized persons for 
            various reasons.  

           FISCAL EFFECT  :  According to the Assembly Appropriations 
          Committee, significant ongoing increase in the use of existing 
          DROS fees, in the range of $1 million. 

          This bill does not appropriate funds or raise a fee; this bill 
          explicitly authorizes the use of DROS funding for an additional 
          purpose.  According to DOJ (the sponsor of this bill), upon 
          passage of this bill, DOJ will pursue a Budget Change Proposal 
          (BCP) for the 2012-13 budget bill to fund APPS efforts from the 
          DROS fund.  DOJ estimates that BCP will request about $1 million 
          for special agents to assist other agents and local law 
          enforcement in APPS sweeps. 

          In addition, DOJ states it will seek one-time funds of about 
          $500,000 for APPS DOJ task forces. 

          Currently there is a DROS reserve of about $5.5 million.  This 
          assumes a one-time $11.5 million budget transfer to the General 
          Fund.

           COMMENTS  :   According to the author, "SB 819 will amend the 
          Penal Code to allow the DOJ to use existing Department resources 
          to provide enhanced enforcement of the APPS which has identified 
          over 36,000 handguns and assault weapons in the hands of more 
          than 18,000 prohibited persons such as convicted felons and the 
          mentally ill.

          "Recently, the New York Times reported on California's Armed 
          Prohibited Persons File and the problems it seeks to address:

          "By law, Roy Perez should not have had a gun three years ago 
          when he shot his mother 16 times in their home in Baldwin Park, 
          Calif., killing her, and then went next door and killed a woman 








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          and her 4-year-old daughter. 

          "Mr. Perez, who pleaded guilty to three counts of murder and was 
          sentenced last year to life in prison, had a history of mental 
          health issues.  As a result, even though in 2004 he legally 
          bought the 9-millimeter Glock 26 handgun he used, at the time of 
          the shootings his name was in a statewide law enforcement 
          database as someone whose gun should be taken away, according to 
          the authorities. 

          "The case highlights a serious vulnerability when it comes to 
          keeping guns out of the hands of the mentally unstable and 
          others, not just in California but across the country. 

          "In the wake of the Tucson shootings, much attention has been 
          paid to various categories of people who are legally barred from 
          buying handguns - those who have been 'adjudicated as a mental 
          defective,' have felony convictions, have committed domestic 
          violence misdemeanors and so on.  The focus has almost entirely 
          been on gaps in the federal background check system that is 
          supposed to deny guns to these prohibited buyers. 

          "There is, however, another major blind spot in the system. 

          "Tens of thousands of gun owners, like Mr. Perez, bought their 
          weapons legally but under the law should no longer have them 
          because of subsequent mental health or criminal issues.  In Mr. 
          Perez's case, he had been held involuntarily by the authorities 
          several times for psychiatric evaluation, which in California 
          bars a person from possessing a gun for five years. 

          "Policing these prohibitions is difficult, however, in most 
          states.  The authorities usually have to stumble upon the weapon 
          in, say, a traffic stop or some other encounter, and run the 
          person's name through various record checks. 

          "California is unique in the country, gun control advocates say, 
          because of its computerized database, the APPS.  It was created, 
          in part, to enable law enforcement officials to handle the issue 
          pre-emptively, actively identifying people who legally bought 
          handguns, or registered assault weapons, but are now prohibited 
          from having them. 

          "The list had 18,374 names on it as of the beginning of this 








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          month - 15 to 20 are added a day - swamping law enforcement's 
          ability to keep up.  Some police departments admitted that they 
          had not even tried. 

          "SB 819 addresses the critical need to enforce existing firearm 
          prohibition laws.  Increased confiscation of unlawfully 
          possessed firearms could result in the prevention of future 
          crimes and potentially major future cost savings associated with 
          avoided prosecution and incarceration.  This bill is strongly 
          supported local law as well organizations working to reduce 
          firearms violence in our communities."

          Please see the policy committee analysis for a full discussion 
          of this bill.
           
          Analysis Prepared by  :    Gabriel Caswell / PUB. S. / (916) 
          319-3744 
           
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