BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



                                                                  AB 668
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          Date of Hearing:   April 21, 2009
          Counsel:        Gabriel Caswell


                         ASSEMBLY COMMITTEE ON PUBLIC SAFETY
                                 Jose Solorio, Chair

                     AB 668 (Lieu) - As Amended:  April 13, 2009
           

          SUMMARY  :  Extends the "school zone" for purposes of criminal  
          sanctions for violating a gun-free area from 1,000 feet to 1,500  
          feet.  Specifically, this bill:  

          1)Specifies that exceptions to the possession of a pistol in a  
            school zone must be "lawfully possessed."

          2)Clarifies that nothing in this section is meant to allow an  
            individual, other than those specifically exempted to possess  
            a firearm on any school facility without the written  
            permission of the school district superintendent, his or her  
            designee, or equivalent school authority.

          3)Defines a "school facility" as any building or property,  
            excluding driveways and parking lots, located on the grounds  
            of a public or private school providing instruction in  
            Kindergarten or Grades 1 to 12, inclusive.
           
          EXISTING LAW  :

          1)Establishes the Gun-Free School Zone Act of 1995.  (California  
            Penal Code Section 626.9.)  

          2)States that any person who possesses a firearm in a place that  
            the person knows, or reasonably should know, is a school zone  
            unless it is with the written permission of the school  
            district superintendent, his or her designee, or equivalent  
            school authority, shall be punished as follows [California  
            Penal Code Section 626.9(b)]:

             a)   Any person who possesses a firearm in, or on the grounds  
               of, a public or private school providing instruction in  
               Kindergarten or Grades 1 to 12, inclusive, shall be  
               punished by imprisonment in the state prison for two,  
               three, or five years.  [California Penal Code Section  








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               626.9(f)(1).]  

             b)   Any person who possesses a firearm within a distance of  
               1,000 feet from the grounds of a public or private school  
               providing instruction in Kindergarten or Grades 1 to 12,  
               inclusive, shall be punished as follows [California Penal  
               Code Section 626.9(f)(2)]:

               i)     By imprisonment in the state prison for two, three,  
                 or five years, if any of the following circumstances  
                 apply:

                  (1)       If the person previously has been convicted of  
                    any felony, or of any specified firearms offense. 

                  (2)       If the person is within a specified class of  
                    persons prohibited from possessing or acquiring a  
                    firearm. 

                  (3)       If the firearm is any pistol, revolver, or  
                    other firearm capable of being concealed upon the  
                    person and the offense is punished as a felony  
                    violation of carrying a concealed weapon.

               ii)    By imprisonment in a county jail for not more than  
                 one year or by imprisonment in the state prison for two,  
                 three, or five years, in all other cases.  

             c)   States that any person who discharges or attempts to  
               discharge a firearm on school grounds shall be punished by  
               imprisonment in the state prison for three, five, or seven  
               years.  [California Penal Code Section 626.9(f)(3).]

             d)   Provides every person convicted under this section for a  
               misdemeanor violation of subdivision (b) who has been  
               convicted previously of a misdemeanor offense enumerated in  
               Section 12001.6 shall be punished by imprisonment in a  
               county jail for not less than three months, or if probation  
               is granted or if the execution or imposition of sentence is  
               suspended, it shall be a condition thereof that he or she  
               be imprisoned in a county jail for not less than three  
               months.  [California Penal Code Section 626.9(g)(1).]  

             e)   Every person convicted under this section of a felony  
               violation of subdivision (b) or (d) who has been convicted  








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               previously of a misdemeanor offense enumerated in Section  
               12001.6, if probation is granted or if the execution of  
               sentence is suspended, it shall be a condition thereof that  
               he or she be imprisoned in a county jail for not less than  
               three months.  [California Penal Code Section 626.9(g)(2).]  


             f)   Every person convicted under this section for a felony  
               violation of subdivision (b) or (d) who has been convicted  
               previously of any felony, or of any crime made punishable  
               by Chapter 1 (commencing with Section 12000) of Title 2 of  
               Part 4, if probation is granted or if the execution or  
               imposition of sentence is suspended, it shall be a  
               condition thereof that he or she be imprisoned in a county  
               jail for not less than three months.  [California Penal  
               Code Section 626.9(g)(3).]  

             g)   The court shall apply the three-month minimum sentence  
               specified in this subdivision, except in unusual cases  
               where the interests of justice would best be served by  
               granting probation or suspending the execution or  
               imposition of sentence without the minimum imprisonment  
               required in this subdivision or by granting probation or  
               suspending the execution or imposition of sentence with  
               conditions other than those set forth in this subdivision,  
               in which case the court shall specify on the record and  
               shall enter on the minutes the circumstances indicating  
               that the interests of justice would best be served by this  
               disposition.  [California Penal Code Section 626.9(g)(4).]   


          3)Creates an exception to possession of a firearm within a  
            school zone under the following circumstances [California  
            Penal Code Section 626.9(c)]:

             a)   Within a place of residence or place of business or on  
               private property, if the place of residence, place of  
               business, or private property is not part of the school  
               grounds and the possession of the firearm is otherwise  
               lawful.

             b)   When the firearm is an unloaded pistol, revolver, or  
               other firearm capable of being concealed on the person and  
               is in a locked container or within the locked trunk of a  
               motor vehicle.  This section does not prohibit or limit the  








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               otherwise lawful transportation of any other firearm, other  
               than a pistol, revolver, or other firearm capable of being  
               concealed on the person, in accordance with state law.

             c)   When the person possessing the firearm reasonably  
               believes that he or she is in grave danger because of  
               circumstances forming the basis of a current restraining  
               order issued by a court against another person or persons  
               who has or have been found to pose a threat to his or her  
               life or safety. This subdivision may not apply when the  
               circumstances involve a mutual restraining order absent a  
               factual finding of a specific threat to the person's life  
               or safety. 

             d)   When the person is exempt from the prohibition against  
               carrying a concealed firearm pursuant to specified sections  
               of the Penal Code.  
             
          4)Defines a "school zone" as an area in, or on the grounds of, a  
            public or private school providing instruction in Kindergarten  
            or Grades 1 to 12, inclusive, or within a distance of 1,000  
            feet from the grounds of the public or private school.   
            [California Penal Code Section 626.9(e).]  

           FISCAL EFFECT  :   Unknown

           COMMENTS  :   

           1)Author's Statement  :  According to the author, "AB 668 will  
            expand the boundaries of the Gun-Free School Zones from 1,000  
            feet to 1,500 feet in an effort to restrict the possession of  
            firearms within school zones and to conform the boundaries  
            with Safe School Zones.  This bill will ensure that criminal  
            possession or use of a gun around schools is still applicable  
            to the Gun-Free School Zone Act.
             
            "AB 668 also clarifies the exceptions to the Gun-Free School  
            Zone Act applies only to individuals who are in lawful  
            possession or who are lawfully transporting a firearm.  These  
            clarifications ensure that individuals who illegally possess  
            firearms are not able to exploit the Act's exemptions thus  
            maintaining the Legislature's original intent. 

            "AB 668 is an important measure to further protect schools and  
            the surrounding communities from gun-related violence and  








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            crime.  By providing a safer environment for children to  
            attend school, California's students are able focus their  
            minds on achieving academically."

           2)Background  :  According to background supplied by the author,  
            "California law attempts to protect students and teachers in  
            our public or private schools by establishing School Safe  
            Zones and Gun-Free School Zones which are used to provide  
            increased punishment for criminal activity on or near schools  
            and for the illegal possession of a firearm in or near a  
            public or private school.  Therefore, allowing children to  
            focus more on their educational subjects than on the outside  
            dangers. 

          "In 2008, Senate Bill 1666 (Ron Calderon - Chapter 726, Statute  
            of 2008) expanded the areas designated by California's Safe  
            School Zone law from 1,000 feet to 1,500 feet around schools.  
            This bill provided a safer environment for California's  
            children by creating a larger safe zone to keep out those who  
            would disturb school activity and drug offenders. 

          "However, SB 1666 did not increase the area in which enhanced  
            penalties apply for illegal gun possession around public or  
            private schools.  Thus, there is a disparity in the areas  
            protected by California's Safe School Zone law and  
            California's Gun-Free School Zone Act.  Safe School Zone  
            extends out to an area 1,500 feet from a public or private  
            school, while the Gun-Free School Zone only protects an area  
            1,000 feet from a public or private school. 

          "As a result of this disparity of the areas protected by the  
            different zones, if criminal possession or use of a gun  
            outside a Gun-Free School Zone but within a Safe School Zone,  
            the criminal penalties established by the Gun-Free School Zone  
            Act would not be applicable.  AB 668 seeks to address this  
            discrepancy by making the zones the same footage and by  
            sending a strong message to our neighborhoods that unlawful  
            possession of a firearm will not be tolerated, especially when  
            it occurs in close proximity to children."

           3)Technical Clarifications  :  This bill makes clarifications to  
            two areas of the gun-free school zone provisions in the Penal  
            Code.  First, this bill expands the "school zone" established  
            for the purpose of gun-free school zones to 1,500 feet.  This  
            change is consistent with last year's expansion of school  








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            safety zones to 1,500 feet in SB 1666 (Calderon), Chapter 726,  
            Statutes of 2008.  
             
             Second, this bill makes clarifications to the exceptions  
            permitting possession of firearms within a gun-free school  
            zone.  Specifically, this bill specifies that the unloaded and  
            locked firearms must also be "lawfully possessed."  

           4)Argument in Support  :  The  California Chapters of the Brady  
            Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence  states, "In 2008 SB 1666  
            (Calderon) was signed into law expanding the radius of a safe  
            school zone, as defined in Penal Code Section 626, from 1,000  
            feet to 1,500.  However, that legislation did not address the  
            radius for the 'Gun Free School Zone' established in PC 626.9  
            at 1,000 feet.  
            
             "AB 668 expands the radius of the 'Gun Free School Zone' to  
            1,500 feet to make it consistent with PC 626.  In addition,  
            this bill requires that handguns that are lawfully possessed  
            must be stored unladed within a locked box in a motor vehicle,  
            or unloaded and inside and inside the locked trunk of a  
            vehicle.  

            "Firearms simply have no place in our schools.  It is in the  
            interest of student safety to expand the area of our gun free  
            school zones and to insure that lawfully possessed firearms  
            are locked in vehicles and not readily accessible."  

           5)Prior Legislation :  SB 1666 (Calderon), statutes of 2008,  
            Chapter 726, specified that the term "schools" as used in  
            various provisions of law relating to school safety include  
            both public and private institutions.  SB 1666 increased the  
            safe school zone distance from 1,000 feet to 1,500 feet.  
           
          REGISTERED SUPPORT / OPPOSITION  :   

           Support 
           
          Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department (Co-Sponsor)
          California Association of School Business Officials 
          California Chapters of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun  
          Violence 
          California District Attorneys Association 
          California Partnership to End Domestic Violence 
          California Peace Officers' Association 








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          California Police Chiefs Association 
          California State Sheriffs' Association 
          Legal Community Against Violence
          San Francisco Unified School District 


           Opposition 
           
          California Public Defenders Association
          Taxpayers for Improving Public Safety
           

          Analysis Prepared by  :    Gabriel Caswell / PUB. S. / (916)  
          319-3744