Senate Bill 715, a measure authored by Senator Anthony J. Portantino (D – La Cañada Flintridge) which creates gun purchase safeguards and expands independent review of tragic police shootings, cleared the Assembly Public Safety Committee today.
“SB 715 is an important step toward combatting the gun violence epidemic in our country and improving public safety for all Californians,” stated Senator Portantino. “I am hopeful that with sensible measures, we can prevent tragic incidents of violence and conduct independent investigations when warranted. I believe that if the provisions in SB 715 had been in place in 2019, the tragedy that took place in Poway could have been prevented,” he added.
SB 715 addresses concerns related to the tragic synagogue shooting in Poway. The perpetrator of the Poway shooting was able to purchase a rifl e, despite being under 21 and not having a valid hunting license. The validity of the license at the time of purchase was not verified.
Under current law, when transferring or purchasing a fi rearm with a hunting license there is no verifi cation process during the 10- day background check process to ensure the validity of the license. This measure would require the Department of Justice, for sales of fi rearms to persons under 21 years of age who are eligible to purchase a fi rearm based upon their possession of a hunting license, to confi rm the validity of the hunting license as part of the background check. This bill additionally defi nes what constitutes a valid and unexpired hunting license and would no longer allow a hunting license from the immediately preceding year to be used for this purpose. The bill would require a dealer to refuse delivery of a fi rearm if the validity of a hunting license cannot be determined upon visual inspection.
SB 715 also clarifi es what qualifi es as an unarmed civilian to prompt investigations of offi cer involved shootings by the Attorney General’s Offi ce. It would authorize the state prosecutor to investigate and gather facts in an incident involving a shooting by a peace offi cer that results in the death of a civilian if there is a reasonable dispute as to whether that civilian was armed. Existing law, AB 1506, authorizes the state prosecutor to investigate only an offi cer involved shooting of an unarmed civilian.
In a recent incident, a Pasadena Police Department offi cer fatally and tragically shot civilian Anthony McClain. It is being disputed whether Mr. McClain was armed and therefore the incident was not eligible for DOJ investigation. Under SB 715, incidents such as this tragic shooting would be eligible for the same review included in AB 1506. Assemblymember Kevin McCarty (D –Sacramento) authored AB 1506 and is a co-author of SB 715.
Senator Portantino has a long history of advocating for smart and sensible solutions to our nation’s tragic history of gun violence. During his time in the Assembly, the Senator successfully banned the open carry of handguns and rifl es in California and as Senator, he raised the general gun purchase age in California to 21.