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.








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          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  








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          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  








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          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.