BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    

                                                                  SB 293
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          Date of Hearing:   August 14, 2013

                                  Mike Gatto, Chair

                   SB 293 (DeSaulnier) - As Amended:  May 24, 2013 

          Policy Committee:                             Public  

          Urgency:     No                   State Mandated Local Program:  
          Yes    Reimbursable:              Yes


          This bill defines owner-authorized handguns (so-called smart  
          guns) and provides that if and when two owner-authorized  
          handguns are placed on the Department of Justice (DOJ) roster of  
          not unsafe handguns (guns not on the list may not be  
          manufactured or sold in California), two years from the date the  
          second handgun was placed on the roster, DOJ shall not place a  
          handgun on the roster that is not an owner-authorized handgun.   
          Specifically, this bill:   

          1)Defines an owner-authorized handgun as a handgun with a  
            permanent programmable biometric or other permanent  
            programmable feature as part of its original manufacture that  
            renders the gun inoperable except when activated by the lawful  
            owner or other authorized users.

          2)Requires owner-authorized handguns to comply with minimum  
            performance standards, including:

             a)   The gun must not fail to recognize the authorized user,  
               and must not falsely recognize an unauthorized user, more  
               than one time per thousand recognition attempts.

             b)   The time from first contact to use recognition and gun  
               enablement must be less than .3 seconds.

             c)   The time from loss of contact with the authorized user  
               and gun disablement must be less than .3 seconds.

             d)   If the user is not recognized, or if the power supply  
               fails, the gun must be inoperable.


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             e)   The gun must be capable of use by more than one  
               authorized user and, if the gun uses hand recognition  
               technology, it must recognize either of the authorized  
               user's hands.

             f)   An owner-authorized gun must be programmed by a licensed  
               firearms dealer.

            FISCAL EFFECT  

          1)Minor one-time special fund costs, likely less than $100,000,  
            for DOJ to develop regulations to implement the bill once the  
            smart-gun technology is available.  

          2)Special fund cost pressure, potentially in $100,000 range, to  
            the extent DOJ becomes involved with testing technology and  
            evaluation. While the bill requires gun manufacturers to bear  
            the cost of testing, DOJ will at a minimum have costs related  
            to database changes, training and information bulletins   


          1)Rationale.  The author contends that the biometric technology  
            necessary to create owner-authorized guns is imminent and will  
            save lives and money and that the state should encourage and  
            prepare for so-called smart guns.   

           2)Smartgun Background.  For more than 20 years gun enthusiasts  
            and gun control advocates have debated the merits of  
            smartguns. For some gun enthusiasts, the notion of using  
            technology to control who can fire a gun raises issues of  
            excessive government control. For others, the  
            as-yet-widely-unavailable technology offers an opportunity for  
            gun safety without threatening personal ownership. For gun  
            control advocates, smartguns increase safety by thwarting  
            thieves and child access, while some gun control advocates,  
            however, worry that such technology, by making guns safer,  
            would encourage Americans to stockpile even more weapons. 

            As reported by the Associated Press in January 2013, in 1999,  
            the New Jersey Legislature provided a grant to researchers at  
            the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) to study  
            personalized gun technology. Those efforts focused on adding  


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            transducers to a gun's handle to detect the grasp of an  
            authorized user. Meanwhile, the U.S. Justice Department  
            offered a challenge grant to gun makers and although two  
            responded, they made limited progress.

            Work on personalized weapons slowed when gun groups boycotted  
            Smith & Wesson over a 2000 agreement it signed with the  
            Clinton administration in which the manufacturer made numerous  
            promises, including one to develop smart guns.

            Meanwhile, TriggerSmart Ltd. of Limerick, Ireland, has  
            developed a system using Radio Frequency Identification built  
            into the handle of a gun and triggered by a device the size of  
            a grain of rice inside a user's ring or bracelet, and Armatix  
            GmbH of Germany, states it has developed a personalized gun,  
            with settings based on radio frequency technology and  

           3)Is it helpful to define a technology and/or mandate its use  
            prior to its full development?

          4)Current Law  .  

             a)   Defines an unsafe handgun as any gun capable of being  
               concealed upon the person that lacks various safety  
               mechanisms and does not pass listed tests, as specified.  
               Makes manufacturing, importing, or selling an unsafe  
               handgun, with specified exceptions, a misdemeanor,  
               punishable by up to 1 year in county jail. 

             b)   Requires every handgun manufactured in California,  
               imported for sale, kept for sale, or offered for sale to be  
               tested within a reasonable period of time by an independent  
               laboratory and certified by DOJ to determine whether it  
               meets required safety standards.

             c)   Requires DOJ to compile and maintain a roster listing  
               all guns determined not to be unsafe.
          5)Supporters  include the cities of Oakland and L.A. , the Law  
            Center to Prevent Gun Violence, and the California Chapter of  


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            the Brady campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. According to the  
            Brady Campaign, "The concept of an owner-authorized handgun  
            has been under discussion for over 15 years.  In 2002, New  
            Jersey passed a law similar to SB 293.  A number of  
            technological solutions have been explored, but none had been  
            sufficiently reliable.  However, there have been recent  
            advances in access control technologies and features for  
            handguns and prototypes are becoming available.  This  
            technology has the potential to achieve very high authorized  
            user recognition reliability and very short response times.

          "Once owner-authorized handguns are commercially available,  
            accidental firearm injuries, homicides, and suicides could be  
            significantly reduced.  Personalized handguns would be  
            inoperable by unauthorized users - including children,  
            troubled young adults, and thieves - thereby helping to  
            prevent intentional and unintentional gun violence in  
          6)Opposition.  Various gun-related groups contend costs and  
            availability could limit gun ownership. Opponents also  
            question the author's contention that the technology is  
            imminent and/or effective or practical.  

          7)Prior Legislation  . 

             a)   SB 697 (DeSaulnier), 2009, was similar to this bill and  
               was never heard in the Senate.   

             b)   AB 2235 (DeSaulnier), 2008, was similar to this bill and  
               was held on the Senate Appropriations Suspense File.

           Analysis Prepared by  :    Geoff Long / APPR. / (916) 319-2081