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 30, 2013                           
          Consultant: Jolie Onodera       
          
          SUSPENSE FILE. AS PROPOSED TO BE AMENDED.
          
          
          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 (as proposed to be amended): 
              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  






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              implement enhancements to several automated tracking systems  
              and databases.
              Potential state-reimbursable costs for the mandated  
              notification process placed on peace officers and law  
              enforcement agencies.
              Minor, absorbable impact to the DSH to accommodate DOJ  
              requests electronically.
              Minor impact to the DOJ with regard to the 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  







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          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." 








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          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.

          This bill extends the existing requirements governing the return  
          of confiscated firearms in the custody or control of a court or  
          law enforcement agency to persons who have been detained or  
          apprehended for examination and to mentally ill individuals who  
          are prohibited from possessing firearms who have had their  
          firearms confiscated. By mandating additional notification  
          duties on law enforcement agencies and peace officers, the  
          provisions of this bill could result in ongoing  
          state-reimbursable costs of an unknown but potentially  
          significant amount.

          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. 

          The proposed author amendments do the following:







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           Specify that courts shall notify the DOJ as soon as possible,  
            but not later than two court days, as specified (current law  
            specifies notification "immediately").
           Require law enforcement agencies to issue a receipt describing  
            the firearm or deadly weapon, as specified, and require law  
            enforcement to notify persons of the procedure for the sale,  
            transfer, or destruction of a firearm/deadly weapon.