A group of California Democrats has succeeded in getting the first new bill aimed at reducing gun violence passed in the California State Senate since the deadly school shooting in Newtown, Conn. in December.
Co-authored by Leland Yee (D-San Francisco/San Mateo County), SB 140 aims to reduce gun violence by funneling more money into the state's Department of Justice (DOJ) in an effort to track sales of firearms to persons prohibited from owning them.
Existing California law charges fees to firearm dealers and requires them to keep records of their sales. These fees are collected in a special account within the state's General Fund, known as the Dealers' Record of Sales Account (DROS).
Another existing state law requires the state's Attorney General to establish and maintain an online database known as the Prohibited Armed Persons File, or Armed Prohibited Persons System (APPS), to cross-reference persons who have ownership or possession of a firearm with those who are prohibited from owning or possessing a firearm.
The group of Democrats argue that the cross-referencing of firearm sales records with APPS in order to track sales of firearms to known criminals has lacked too much in recent years. Therefore, SB 140 mandates that $24 million be diverted from the DROS account and be used to expand the DOJ's reach and focus more on cross-referencing and tracking the sales of firearms to prohibited persons.
The text of SB 140, available here online, indicates there is currently a large backlog of entries that need to be made into APPS, and appropriates part of that $24 million to add more manpower to reduce, and hopefully eliminate, that backlog.
The text of the bill also requires that the DOJ give regular updates on how the use of the funds is allowing the department to reduce or eliminate that backlog.
SB 140 was approved by more than the required two-thirds vote in the State Senate this week.
Yee sent out the following statement after the bill's passage:
“I commend my colleagues on both sides of the aisle for supporting this common-sense bill to take guns out of the hands of potentially dangerous people," he said. "Despite unreasonable opposition by the NRA and other gun advocates, the Senate overwhelmingly approved SB 140 and I am hopeful that, in the weeks ahead, the Legislature will take similar action on the rest of our package to reduce gun violence.”
The "package" Yee referred to in his statement is a collection of a few other gun control bills Yee is trying to push forward in California, despite recent threats to his life by those opposed to increased gun control.
Other bills he has authored or co-authored that are still pending include SB 47, which aims to ban the bullet button, as well as assault weapons and other guns that feature or allow quickly-changeable, high-volume magazines; and SB 108, which would require all guns to be properly stored when not in the possession of the owner.
Current law only requires that gun owners own a trigger lock or safety lock-box for their weapon, but doesn’t require the safety device to be used on an idle firearm. Yee’s bill will specifically require that all guns be properly stored with a trigger lock or in a lock-box at a residence when the owner is not present.
State Senator Leland Yee represents California State Senate District 8, which includes all of San Francisco County and most of San Mateo County.
What do you think of the passage of SB 140, and the other bills Yee is trying to get passed in the State Senate? Tell us your opinion in the comments below.