BILL ANALYSIS Ó Senate Appropriations Committee Fiscal Summary Senator Kevin de León, Chair SB 683 (Block) - Firearms: firearm safety certificate. Amended: April 1, 2013 Policy Vote: Public Safety 5-2 Urgency: No Mandate: Yes Hearing Date: May 6, 2013 Consultant: Jolie Onodera This bill meets the criteria for referral to the Suspense File. Bill Summary: SB 683 would extend to all firearms the requirement under current law that requires all handgun purchasers to obtain a safety certificate prior to taking possession of a handgun, as specified. Fiscal Impact: One-time costs of $716,000 (Special Fund*) over two years to the Department of Justice (DOJ) to update program materials including safety guides, certificates, the written test, safety video, and related materials. Costs to be fully covered by fees. Annual DOJ enforcement costs of about $500,000 (Special Fund*) to be covered by the $15 transaction fee. Non-reimbursable local enforcement costs offset to a degree by fine revenue. Non-reimbursable local incarceration costs to the extent persons are convicted of the misdemeanor offenses of falsifying a firearm safety certificate or conducting transactions involving a firearm without a valid firearm safety certificate. *Firearm Safety and Enforcement Special Fund Background: Under existing law, no person may purchase, transfer, receive, or sell a handgun without a handgun safety certificate (HSC). There is not a similar requirement for other firearms under current law. A violation of the HSC requirement is a misdemeanor, punishable by up to six months in county jail, a fine of up to $1,000, or both. In addition, any person who falsifies a HSC to purchase a handgun is guilty of a misdemeanor. Current law provides an exemption to specified persons including honorably retired members of the armed forces from the HSC requirement. SB 683 (Block) Page 1 HSC applicants are required to pass a written test developed by the DOJ that covers current firearms law, basic firearms safety with respect to carrying and handling firearms, particularly handguns, safe storage, the responsibilities of firearms ownership, and the risks associated with bringing a firearm into the home. Tests are administered by DOJ-certified instructors who have a prescribed minimum level of skill, knowledge, and training in firearms safety. The HSC expires five years after the date of issuance. Proposed Law: This bill would extend to all firearms the requirement under current law that requires all handgun purchasers to obtain a safety certificate prior to taking possession of a handgun. Specifically, this bill would prohibit a person from purchasing or receiving any firearm without a valid firearm safety certificate, and would prohibit any person from selling, delivering, loaning, or transferring any firearm to any person who does not have a valid firearm safety certificate. This bill would make conforming changes to statutes regarding HSCs. Prior Legislation: SB 52 (Scott) Chapter 942/2001 repealed the Basic Firearms Safety and Certificate and replaced it with the HSC program effective January 1, 2003. Related Legislation: This measure is part of the following legislative package deemed the Lifesaving Intelligent Firearms Enforcement (LIFE) Act: SB 47 (Yee) 2013 would revise the definition of assault weapon to include a firearm that has one of several specified features and does not have a "fixed magazine" as defined. This bill would require the registration of specified lawfully possessed assault weapons that do not have a fixed magazine, as defined, with the DOJ. This bill is scheduled to be heard today by this committee. SB 53 (De Leon) 2013 would require the sale, purchase, and transfer of ammunition to be subject to additional regulations, as specified. This bill would 1) require ammunition purchasers to obtain an ammunition purchase permit and complete a background check prior to any transaction, and, 2) require DOJ to maintain records of all ammunition vendor licenses and purchase permits issued, as well as all ammunition sales. This SB 683 (Block) Page 2 bill is scheduled to be heard today by this committee. SB 140 (Leno) 2013 Chapter 2/2013, an urgency measure, appropriates $24 million from the DROS Special Account to the DOJ to address the backlog of unlawfully held firearms in the Armed Prohibited Persons System (APPS). This bill was signed by the Governor on May 1, 2013. SB 374 (Steinberg) 2013 would 1) redefine the definition of what rifles would be considered assault weapons, 2) provide a definition for both "fixed magazine" and "detachable magazine," 3) require the registration of specified lawfully possessed assault weapons with the DOJ, and, 4) enact provisions establishing a Firearm Ownership Record, as specified. This bill is scheduled to be heard today by this committee. SB 396 (Hancock) 2013 would ban the possession of large-capacity ammunition magazines capable of holding more than 10 rounds, and would require the disposal of any large-capacity magazine, as defined, in specified ways. This bill is scheduled to be heard today by this committee. SB 567 (Jackson) 2013 would revise the definition of shotgun to 1) delete language stating that to be considered a shotgun, the weapon must be intended to be fired from the shoulder, and 2) add language stating a shotgun may include a weapon with a rifled bore as well as a smooth bore. This bill is scheduled to be heard today by this committee. SB 755 (Wolk) 2013 expands the list of misdemeanors that result in a 10-year prohibition from firearms possession to include drug and alcohol-related offenses. This bill is scheduled to be heard today by this committee. Staff Comments: Extending the certificate program from handguns to all firearms will result in increased one-time costs to the DOJ of $716,000 from the Firearm Safety and Enforcement Special Fund to update program materials, develop revised safety guides, certificates, and a written test. The DOJ will also incur increased ongoing enforcement costs of about $500,000 per year that is projected to be fully covered by the $15 transaction fee per test administered for long gun purchasers who previously were not required to obtain a firearm SB 683 (Block) Page 3 safety certificate. 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. Recommended Amendments: Staff recommends a delayed implementation date be added to the bill in order to provide the DOJ with an adequate timeframe within which to update all materials in preparation for the firearm safety certificate requirement. The necessary testing and program materials will not be available upon the bill's enactment date of January 1, 2014.