BILL ANALYSIS Ó Senate Appropriations Committee Fiscal Summary Senator Kevin de León, Chair AB 1131 (Skinner) - Firearms prohibition: threats made to therapists. Amended: May 24, 2013 Policy Vote: Public Safety 6-0 Urgency: No Mandate: Yes Hearing Date: August 12, 2013 Consultant: Jolie Onodera This bill meets the criteria for referral to the Suspense File. Bill Summary: AB 1131 would increase from six months to five years the period of time a person is prohibited from possessing or owning a firearm based on his or her communication with a licensed psychotherapist, on or after January 1, 2014, of a threat of physical violence against a reasonably identifiable victim or victims. In addition, this bill: Recasts provisions authorizing the court to find a person is not subject to the firearm possession prohibition to provide that if a hearing is requested to contest such a prohibition, the prosecution has the burden of proof, and specifies additional procedures regarding such hearings. Specifies procedures to be followed for the return of confiscated firearms by persons not found to be subject to the five-year prohibition. Provides that for firearms confiscated for specified mental health reasons, the period of forfeiture is 180 days during which law enforcement may be contacted to facilitate sale or transfer to a firearms dealer, after which the firearm is subject to destruction. Specifies notices and reports required to be submitted to the Department of Justice (DOJ) under WIC § 8103 to be submitted in electronic format. Requires the Department of State Hospitals (DSH) to make specified records available in electronic format to DOJ within 24 hours of a request. Revises existing notification requirements for licensed psychotherapists and local law enforcement agencies involving reports of serious threats of physical violence from "immediately" to "within 24 hours," as prescribed by the DOJ. Fiscal Impact: AB 1131 (Skinner) Page 1 One-time costs to the DOJ of $260,000 (Special Fund*) in FY 2013-14 and $100,000 in FY 2014-15 to design, develop, and implement enhancements to several automated tracking systems and databases. Minor, absorbable impact to the DSH to accommodate DOJ requests electronically. Minor, if any, impact to local law enforcement agencies and negligible impact to the DOJ with regard to notification changes. Potential ongoing minor court-related costs (General Fund**) for additional misdemeanor/felony court filings resulting from the extended period of prohibition. Potential increase in non-reimbursable local incarceration costs offset to a degree by fine revenue to the extent additional violations of the firearms prohibition occur under the extended period of prohibition. *Dealers' Record of Sale (DROS) Special Account **Trial Court Trust Fund Background: Current law requires any licensed psychotherapist to immediately report to a local law enforcement agency the identity of a person who has communicated to that therapist a serious threat of physical violence against a reasonably identifiable victim or victims. The local law enforcement agency is then required to immediately report that information to the DOJ. From the time the psychotherapist reports the threat to local law enforcement, the person who made the threat is prohibited from acquiring or possessing any firearm for six months. Under existing law, the person has the right to request a hearing whereby the person could restore his or her right to own or possess a firearm if a court determines that the person is likely to use firearms or other deadly weapons in a safe and lawful manner. Under existing law, a violation of the aforementioned firearms possession prohibition is an alternate felony/misdemeanor, punishable in a county jail for 16 months, two, or three years, or in a county jail for not more than one year, by a fine of up to $1,000, or by both that imprisonment and fine. The DOJ developed the Armed Prohibited Persons System (APPS) to track handgun and assault weapon owners in California who may pose a threat to public safety. The APPS contains information about persons who have been, will become, or are prohibited from possessing a firearm subsequent to the legal acquisition or AB 1131 (Skinner) Page 2 registration of a firearm or assault weapon. The DOJ receives automatic notifications from state and federal criminal history systems to determine if there is a match in the APPS for a current California firearms owner. The DOJ also receives information from the courts, local law enforcement, state hospitals, as well as public and private mental hospitals to determine if a whether an individual is in prohibited status. According to the DOJ, approximately half of APPS listings are prohibited due to criminal history, about 30 percent are prohibited due to mental health status, and the remaining 20 percent are prohibited due to active restraining orders. This bill seeks to enhance public safety by increasing the period during which a person may not own or possess a firearm due to threats of violence to self or others. Proposed Law: See Bill Summary. Related Legislation: AB 1296 (Skinner) 2013 was substantially similar to this measure but also included a provision increasing from five years to 10 years the period of time a person would be prohibited from possessing or owning a firearm based on the person's admittance into a facility because that person was determined a danger to self or others. This bill was held on the Suspense File of the Assembly Committee on Appropriations. SB 127 (Gaines) 2013 would amend existing notification requirements for licensed psychotherapists and local law enforcement agencies involving reports of serious threats of physical violence from "immediately" to "within 24 hours," as specified. This bill is currently pending hearing in the Assembly Committee on Appropriations. Staff Comments: The DOJ has indicated one-time costs of about $360,000 (Special Fund) would be incurred over 18 months to design, develop, and implement enhancements to several systems and databases to meet the requirements of this measure. This bill would amend the notification requirements for licensed psychotherapists by replacing the word "immediately" with "within 24 hours," and would amend the notification requirements for local law enforcement agencies by replacing the word "immediately" with "electronically, within 24 hours, in a manner prescribed by the Department of Justice." AB 1131 (Skinner) Page 3 Where current law requires that such reports be made "immediately," that requirement is vague both in relation to the reporting method and the time within which the report must be made. Requiring that such reports by law enforcement are made electronically and within 24 hours may increase the chances that this information would be communicated to the DOJ in time to prevent a person from illegally acquiring a firearm. The DOJ has indicated they currently receive approximately 20 written notifications annually. The clarification to the required reporting method and timeline is not projected to place an additional burden on law enforcement agencies, as the 24-hour time provision would appear to extend the time period within which to report over the existing requirement of "immediately." As a result, no significant fiscal impact on local law enforcement agencies is projected. The DOJ has indicated any fiscal impact resulting from this clarification would be negligible. To the extent the provisions of this bill serve to reduce the incidence of firearms-related injuries and death, potential future cost savings could be substantial. A study by the non-profit Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation (PIRE) reported over 105,000 incidences of firearm injury and death in 2010 nationally, with an estimated societal cost of over $174 billion in work lost, medical care, insurance, criminal justice expenses, and pain and suffering. At a unit level, the study reported a governmental cost of $187,000 to $582,000 per firearm fatality in medical and mental health care, emergency services, and administrative and criminal justice costs. The estimated societal cost per firearm injury or fatality, including lost work productivity and quality of life was reported at nearly $430,000 to $5 million, respectively.