BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    Ó

                   Senate Appropriations Committee Fiscal Summary
                            Senator Kevin de León, Chair

          SB 293 (DeSaulnier) - Firearms: owner-authorized handguns.
          Amended: As Introduced          Policy Vote: Public Safety 5-2
          Urgency: No                     Mandate: Yes
          Hearing Date: May 23, 2013      Consultant: Jolie Onodera
          Bill Summary: SB 293 would enact a system of "owner-authorized  
          handguns", as follows:
              Defines an "owner-authorized handgun" as a handgun that has  
              a permanent programmable feature as part of its original  
              manufacture that renders the handgun incapable of being  
              fired except when activated by the lawful owner or other  
              users authorized by the lawful owner, and that cannot be  
              readily deactivated.
              Requires the Attorney General (AG), beginning July 1, 2014,  
              and every July 1 thereafter through 2019, to submit a  
              written report to the Governor and Legislature summarizing  
              the current availability of owner-authorized handguns until  
              such handguns are available for retail sale.
              Amends handgun safety requirements for both revolvers and  
              pistols, as specified, beginning 18 months after the release  
              of the report by the AG stating owner-authorized handguns  
              are available for retail sale. This provision would not  
              apply to the sale, loan, or transfer of handguns  
              manufactured in or imported into this state prior to that  
              Establishes minimum performance standards for  
              "owner-authorized handguns," as specified.
              Provides that, beginning 18 months following the release of  
              the AG report that owner-authorized handguns are available  
              for retail sale, any person who intentionally disables or  
              circumvents the technology of an owner-authorized handgun is  
              guilty of a misdemeanor, punishable by up to six months in  
              county jail, a fine of up to $1,000, or both. 

          Fiscal Impact: Minor ongoing costs (Special Fund*) to the DOJ to  
          submit owner-authorized handguns meeting minimum standards, as  
          specified, for testing at the manufacturer's expense. 
          *Firearm Safety and Enforcement Special Fund


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          Background: The development of owner-authorized handguns or  
          "smart guns" is currently under way both nationally and abroad.  
          Researchers are seeking to develop features to prevent  
          unauthorized or accidental use by any person other than the  
          owner through various means such as biometric recognition  
          technology, which is used to verify a person's identity in order  
          to prevent unauthorized access. 
          Legislative efforts promoting owner-authorized handguns have  
          been pursued over the past 15 years in several states, and in  
          2002, New Jersey became the first state to enact "smart gun"  
          legislation that would eventually require new handguns to  
          contain a mechanism that would allow only their owners to fire  
          them. The bill's enactment was hailed by supporters as an  
          important step in the campaign to reduce handgun violence.

          Proposed Law: This bill provides that commencing 18 months  
          following the release of a report by the AG to the Legislature  
          and Governor reporting that owner-authorized handguns are  
          available for retail sale, as specified, a handgun that is not  
          an owner-authorized handgun will be deemed "unsafe." This  
          requirement will not apply to the sale, loan, or transfer of a  
          handgun manufactured in or imported into this state prior to  
          that date. 

          Related Legislation: SB 697 (DeSaulnier) 2009 was substantially  
          similar to this measure. This bill was referred to but not heard  
          in the Senate Committee on Public Safety. 
          AB 2235 (DeSaulnier) 2008 was substantially similar to this  
          measure. This bill was held on the Suspense File of this  

          Staff Comments: The costs for the DOJ to report annually to the  
          Governor and Legislature on the availability for retail sale of  
          owner-authorized handguns would require additional workload to  
          collect and prepare the reports. Annual costs of $50,000 to  
          $90,000 (Special Fund) are estimated until it has been reported  
          that owner-authorized handguns are available for retail sale.  
          Once these handguns are available for retail sale, the AG must  
          adopt regulations to implement the provisions of this bill.  
          Costs of approximately $250,000 (Special Fund) are estimated to  
          develop and adopt these regulations.


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          The DOJ would be required to evaluate the effectiveness,  
          accuracy, and durability of the owner-authorized handguns before  
          adopting regulations. The costs could range from $150,000 to  
          $400,000 (Special Fund) for contracts with outside consultants,  
          depending on the amount of time needed once the technology is  

          The costs associated with this measure are to be paid from the  
          Firearm Safety and Enforcement Special Fund. The 2013-14  
          Governor's Budget reflects a year-end fund balance of $12.2  
          million in the account for FY 2013-14.

          To the extent owner-authorized handguns are eventually available  
          for retail sale, the net impact on future state sales tax  
          revenues is unknown, as the potentially higher cost of  
          owner-authorized handguns over existing handguns would need to  
          be considered against the number of owner-authorized handguns  
          sold in relation to existing sales. The degree to which sales  
          would be impacted would be dependent on numerous factors  
          including the available supply, cost, and consumer choice. In  
          addition to the potential impact on the purchases made by  
          existing handgun owners, the extent to which additional  
          consumers would purchase owner-authorized handguns who otherwise  
          would not have purchased firearms in the absence of the new  
          technology is unknown.

          To the extent the retail sale of owner-authorized handguns  
          reduces the future incidence of unintentional/accidental and  
          intentional acts of gun violence, cost savings could be  
          substantial. A study by the Pacific Institute for Research and  
          Evaluation (PIRE) reported over 105,000 incidences of firearm  
          injury and death in 2010 nationally, with an estimated  
          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 as nearly  
          $430,000 to $5 million, respectively. 

           Author amendments remove the annual DOJ reporting requirements,  
          change operating standards, and clarify procedures in order to  
          remove costs. 


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