BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    

                                                                  SB 505
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          Date of Hearing:  June 24, 2014
          Counsel:       Shaun Naidu

                                 Tom Ammiano, Chair

                    SB 505 (Jackson) - As Amended:  June 10, 2014

           SUMMARY  :   Requires, except in exigent circumstances, a peace  
          officer to search the Department of Justice (DOJ) Automated  
          Firearms System (AFS), as specified, to determine if a person is  
          the registered owner of a firearm before checking on the welfare  
          or well-being of that person and if the check is motivated by a  
          concern that the person may be a danger to others or him- or  

           EXISTING LAW  : 

          1)Requires the Commission on Peace Officer Standards and  
            Training (POST) to establish, by July 1, 2006, and keep  
            updated a continuing education classroom training course  
            relating to law enforcement interaction with mentally disabled  
            persons.  Requires the training course to be developed in  
            consultation with appropriate community, local, and state  
            organizations and agencies that have expertise in the area of  
            mental illness and developmental disability, and with  
            appropriate consumer and family advocate groups.  Requires  
            POST, in developing the course, to examine existing courses  
            certified by the commission that relate to mentally disabled  
            persons.  Requires POST to make the course available to law  
            enforcement agencies in California.  (Pen. Code,  13515.25,  
            subd. (a).)

          2)Authorizes, upon probable cause, a peace officer or other  
            specified mental health treatment individuals to take, or  
            cause to be taken, a person into custody for a period of up to  
            72 hours for assessment, evaluation, and crisis intervention,  
            or placement for evaluation and treatment in a facility  
            designated and approved, as specified, when the person, as a  
            result of a mental health disorder, is a danger to himself,  
            herself, or others, or is gravely disabled.  (Welf. & Inst.  
            Code,  5150.)


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          3)Requires that whenever a person, who has been detained or  
            apprehended for examination of his or her mental condition or  
            who is a person that is a danger to himself, herself, or  
            others as a result of a mental illness or disorder, is found  
            to own, have in his or her possession or under his or her  
            control, any firearm whatsoever, or any other deadly weapon,  
            the firearm or other deadly weapon be confiscated by any law  
            enforcement agency or peace officer, who shall retain custody  
            of the firearm or other deadly weapon.  (Welf. & Inst. Code,   
            8102, subd. (a).)

           FISCAL EFFECT  :   Unknown

           COMMENTS  :   

           1)Author's Statement  :  According to the author, "When checking  
            on a person who may be a danger to themselves or others, often  
            referred to as a "welfare check," Senate Bill 505 would  
            require law enforcement to first conduct a search of the  
            Department of Justice's Automated Firearms System,  
            California's database of gun purchases, to find out whether  
            the person in question may have purchased firearms, and how  
            many.  A search of this database can be done from computers in  
            law enforcement vehicles or by phone.

            "The recent tragedy in Isla Vista, in which Elliot Rodger went  
            on a shooting spree, killing three people with handguns, has  
            raised questions about law enforcement protocols.  Right now  
            there seems only to be patchwork of inconsistent agency  
            policies on database checks. This bill would create  
            consistency and ensure that law enforcement agencies are using  
            the tools available to them to gather potentially life-saving  
            information for themselves and others.

            "Although law enforcement may not have had the legal authority  
            to seize Elliott Rodger's three guns had they known about  
            them, a gun database search could have provided additional  
            information that might have helped them better assess the  
            danger that Rodger posed to himself and others.  Law  
            enforcement could potentially have asked Rodger what he  
            intended to do with the guns, asked to see the guns, or asked  
            him to voluntarily surrender the guns. 

            "We will never know for sure if the outcome in Isla Vista  
            might have been different with a gun database search, but the  


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            next time California experiences a similar tragedy, we  
            shouldn't be left wondering.  Searches of the gun database can  
            be done in as little as 90 seconds, and those 90 seconds can  
            help save lives.

            "While this bill mandates that peace officers check the gun  
            database, it also allows an exception for exigent  
            circumstances, and it only applies to welfare checks in which  
            the check is being done because someone has raised a concern  
            about whether this person is a danger to self or others."

           2)Isla Vista Shooting  :  According to background material  
            provided by the author's office, "Recently there was a mass  
            shooting in Isla Vista California.  Prior to the shooting  
            spree, the perpetrator, Elliot Rodger, was subject to a  
            'welfare check' by sheriff's deputies because his mother had  
            contacted local mental health officials who later contacted  
            police with concerns that Mr. Rodger may have been a danger to  
            self or others.  Police never checked the state's gun  
            database."  This bill would require a peace officer to search  
            AFS to determine if the possibly dangerous subject of a  
            welfare check is the registered owner of any firearms before  
            conducting the welfare check.  It is worth noting that law  
            enforcement has the ability to conduct this type of AFS search  
            for welfare check subjects currently, although it is not  
            mandatory.  It is unclear why the officers who conducted the  
            check on Mr. Rodger did not search AFS or how common a  
            practice that is among the law enforcement community.  On the  
            other hand, it is also unknown if the information that Mr.  
            Rodger was the registered owner of firearms would have changed  
            how the deputies handled the situation as he apparently did  
            not exhibit behavior that warranted further investigation or  
            action by law enforcement during the welfare check.  

          3)Seizure of Firearm from Mentally-Ill Persons  :  A person who is  
            gravely disabled or a danger to others because of a mental  
            disorder may be taken into custody and placed in a mental  
            health facility for up to 72 hours for treatment and  
            evaluation.  (Welf. & Inst. Code,  5150.)  When detained, if  
            such a person "is found to own, have in his or her possession  
            or under his or her control, any firearm whatsoever, or any  
            other deadly weapon," the weapon "shall be confiscated by any  
            law enforcement agency or peace officer, who shall retain  
            custody of the firearm or other deadly weapon."  (Welf. &  
            Inst. Code,  8102, subd. (a).)  When the person is released  


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            from custody, the confiscating law enforcement agency has 30  
            days to initiate a petition in court for a hearing to  
            determine whether returning the firearm or other deadly weapon  
            would likely result in endangering the person or others.   
            (Welf. & Inst. Code,  8102, subd. (c).)  
             In the case of Elliot Rodger, the police did not find probable  
            cause to believe he was a danger to himself or others and  
            therefore did not take him into custody for evaluation.  If  
            they had, his firearms could have been confiscated and  
            judicial proceedings initiated to determine whether they  
            should be returned to him.
            4)Argument in Support  :  The  Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun  
            Violence  states, "There are several reasons for conducting  
            [the] sort of check [required by this bill].  First,  
            determining the presence of firearms is helpful to the  
            investigating officer in ascertaining the degree of danger  
            that the individual may pose.  Secondly, having advance  
            knowledge of the presence or absence of firearms in the home  
            of the person being checked upon would allow the officer to  
            assess the potential risk that he or she may face when  
            carrying out the check.  Finally, the AFS has been developed  
            with great effort and expense and it is therefore in the  
            public interest to utilize the system to its full potential."  

          5)Current Legislation  :  AB 1014 (Skinner) would authorize a  
            court to issue an ex parte gun violence restraining order, as  
            specified.  AB 1014 is being heard by the Senate Committee on  
            Public Safety the same day that as this committee is hearing  
            this bill.  

          Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, California Chapter
          Friends Committee on Legislation of California
          Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence


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           Analysis Prepared by  :    Shaun Naidu / PUB. S. / (916) 319-3744