BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



          SENATE COMMITTEE ON APPROPRIATIONS
                             Senator Ricardo Lara, Chair
                            2015 - 2016  Regular  Session

          AB 1664 (Levine) - Firearms:  assault weapons
          
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          |Version: June 14, 2016          |Policy Vote: PUB. S. 5 - 2      |
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          |Urgency: No                     |Mandate: Yes                    |
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          |Hearing Date: June 20, 2016     |Consultant: Jolie Onodera       |
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          This bill meets the criteria for referral to the Suspense File. 

          Bill  
          Summary:  AB 1664 would update California's regulation of  
          "assault weapons," as follows:
               Amends the definition of assault weapon to refer to a  
              firearm that has one of several specified military-style  
              features and does not have a "fixed magazine" rather than a  
              firearm that has one of those features and "has the capacity  
              to accept a detachable magazine".
               Defines "fixed magazine" as "an ammunition feeding device  
              contained in, or permanently attached to, a firearm in such  
              a manner that the device cannot be removed without  
              disassembly of the firearm action.
               Requires that any person who from January 1, 2001, to  
              December 31, 2016, lawfully possessed an assault weapon that  
              does not have a fixed magazine, as defined, register the  
              firearm via online submission before January 1, 2018, with  
              the Department of Justice (DOJ), as specified.
               Authorizes DOJ to charge a fee of up to $15 per person not  
              to exceed the reasonable processing costs for this  
              registration.









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          Fiscal  
          Impact:  
                Registration process  :  Estimated costs to the DOJ of $1.8  
              million in FY 2016-17, $1.5 million in FY 2017-18, and  
              $40,000 (DROS Account*/General Fund) annually thereafter, to  
              be offset in whole or in part by fees collected from  
              registrants once fully implemented. Staff notes the DROS  
              Account is structurally imbalanced, and current revenues are  
              insufficient to cover the costs of this bill. As a result, a  
              General Fund appropriation may be required to enable  
              completion of the activities within the timelines prescribed  
              and to support the ongoing costs of this measure.
                State prisons  :  Potentially significant increase in annual  
              state incarceration costs (General Fund) to the extent the  
              revised definition of "assault weapon" results in additional  
              firearms violations. For every 10 new commitments to state  
              prison (five each for manufacturing and possession),  
              additional annual costs of $290,000, compounding to $1.2  
              million for overlapping sentences assuming the middle term  
              of the triads for violations of both manufacturing and  
              possession.
                Local agencies  :  Potential future increase in local  
              enforcement and incarceration costs for unlawful possession  
              or sale/manufacture of assault weapons.
                Firearms sales  :  Potentially significant near-term loss of  
              sales tax revenue (General Fund) to the extent the revised  
              definition of "assault weapon" results in a reduction in  
              sales of firearms newly prohibited under the bill's  
              provisions. Future year impacts could be somewhat mitigated  
              to the extent consumers shift to purchases of alternative  
              firearms.
                APPS enforcement  :  Unknown, potential increase in DOJ  
              enforcement costs (Special Fund*) to the extent additional  
              persons are placed on the armed prohibited persons list  
              resulting from the provisions of this measure.

          *Dealers' Record of Sale (DROS) Account - Staff notes the DROS  
          Account is structurally imbalanced, with an estimated reserve  
          balance of less than $1 million by year-end FY 2016-17. Current  
          revenues to the DROS Account are insufficient to cover the costs  
          of this bill in conjunction with the numerous other legislative  
          measures requiring funding from the DROS Account, should they be  
          enacted. As a result, an appropriation from an alternate fund  
          source, potentially the General Fund, may be required to support  








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          the costs of this measure.


          Background:  The enactment of the assault weapons ban in California is  
          described by the federal Court of Appeal from Silveira v.  
          Lockyer, 312 F.3d 1052 (9th Cir. 2002), in part, as follows:   
          "In response to a proliferation of shootings involving  
          semi-automatic weapons, the California Legislature passed the  
          Roberti-Roos Assault Weapons Control Act ("the AWCA") in 1989.  
          The immediate cause of the AWCA's enactment was a random  
          shooting earlier that year at the Cleveland Elementary School in  
          Stockton, California. An individual armed with an AK-47  
          semi-automatic weapon opened fire on the schoolyard, where three  
          hundred pupils were enjoying their morning recess. Five children  
          aged 6 to 9 were killed, and one teacher and 29 children were  
          wounded."
          
          The codified legislative findings and declarations of the AWCA  
          state, in part, "that the proliferation and use of assault  
          weapons poses a threat to the health, safety, and security of  
          all citizens of this state. The Legislature has restricted the  
          assault weapons specified in Section 30510 based upon finding  
          that each firearm has such a high rate of fire and capacity for  
          firepower that its function as a legitimate sports or  
          recreational firearm is substantially outweighed by the danger  
          that it can be used to kill and injure human beings. It is the  
          intent of the Legislature in enacting this chapter to place  
          restrictions on the use of assault weapons and to establish a  
          registration and permit procedure for their lawful sale and  
          possession."

          The AWCA was amended by SB 23 (Perata) Chapter 129/1999 to  
          expand the definition of an assault weapon to include a  
          definition based on its generic characteristics in addition to  
          one of several specified features. SB 23 was enacted in response  
          to the marketing of so-called "copycat" weapons - firearms that  
          were substantially similar to weapons on the prohibited list but  
          slightly different, perhaps only by the name of the weapon,  
          thereby circumventing the ban. The more general definition of an  
          assault weapon enacted under SB 23 was intended to remove the  
          allowance of such copycat weapons that the law previously  
          authorized by its definition of an assault weapon as only those  
          listed by specified make and model. 









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          This bill seeks to address the issue regarding the definition of  
          an assault weapon as it pertains to what constitutes a  
          "detachable magazine." Regulations promulgated after the  
          enactment of SB 23 define a detachable magazine as, "any  
          ammunition feeding device that can be removed readily from the  
          firearm with neither disassembly of the firearm action nor use  
          of a tool being required. A bullet or ammunition cartridge is  
          considered a tool." (11 CFR  5469(a)) In response to this  
          definition, features such as the "bullet button" have been  
          developed by firearms manufacturers that enable easy detachment  
          of a magazine with the use of a "tool" and are thus not  
          classified as a "detachable magazine." As a result, firearms  
          with features such as the "bullet button" do not fall within the  
          current definition of an assault weapon.




          Proposed Law:  
           This bill would redefine "assault weapon" to refer to a firearm  
          that has one of several specified military-style features and  
          does not have a "fixed magazine," rather than a firearm that has  
          one of those features and "has the capacity to accept a  
          "detachable magazine." This bill: 
               Defines "fixed magazine" as "an ammunition feeding device  
              contained in, or permanently attached to, a firearm in such  
              a manner that the device cannot be removed without  
              disassembly of the firearm action.
               Requires that any person who from January 1, 2001, to  
              December 31, 2016, lawfully possessed an assault weapon that  
              does not have a fixed magazine, as defined, register the  
              firearm via online submission utilizing a public-facing  
              application before January 1, 2018, with the DOJ. 
               Provides that notwithstanding the new definition of  
              "assault weapon," any person who possessed an assault weapon  
              prior to January 1, 2017, is exempt from punishment pursuant  
              to PC 30605, if all of the following are applicable:
               o      Prior to January 1, 2017, the person was eligible to  
                 register that assault weapon pursuant to PC 30900(c).
               o      The person lawfully possessed that assault weapon on  
                 January 1, 2017.
               o      The person registers the assault weapon by January  
                 1, 2018, as specified above.
               Authorizes DOJ to charge a fee of up to $15 per person not  








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              to exceed the reasonable processing costs of the DOJ. Fees  
              are to be deposited in the DROS Account. Requires the fee to  
              be paid by debit or credit card at the time the electronic  
              registration is submitted to the DOJ.
               Requires the DOJ to adopt regulations to implement the  
              registration requirements.

          Related Legislation:  AB 1135 (Levine) 2016 is identical to this  
          measure. AB 1135 is pending on the Assembly Floor.

          SB 880 (Hall) 2016 is nearly identical to this measure. SB 880  
          is pending hearing in the Assembly Committee on Appropriations.


          Prior  
          Legislation:  SB 47 (Yee) 2013 was substantially similar to this  
          measure. SB 47 was held on the Suspense File of the Assembly  
          Committee on Appropriations.
          SB 249 (Yee) 2012 was substantially similar to this measure. SB  
          249 was held on the Suspense File of the Assembly Committee on  
          Appropriations.


          Staff  
          Comments:  The DOJ has indicated costs of $1.8 million in FY 2016-17,  
          $1.5 million in FY 2017-18, and $40,000 (DROS Fund) annually  
          thereafter to redesign the existing Assault Weapon Registration  
          (AWR) system with a new web user interface to enable online  
          registration of the specified firearms, to be fully offset by  
          fees. The existing AWR application is over 15 years old, and due  
          to its inflexibility and lack of technical support, DOJ has  
          indicated it cannot be modified for the new business  
          requirements. The new application would be public facing for  
          applicants to complete the personal and firearm information  
          along with the required fee payable upon registration. The  
          software development project is estimated to take 12 months to  
          complete. Given the projected year-long process to develop the  
          system, it is unclear whether the requirement for all persons to  
          register their firearms via online submission before January 1,  
          2018, could be accomplished.

          Staff notes the DROS Account is structurally imbalanced, with a  
          projected reserve balance of less than $1 million at year end FY  
          2016-17. In order for the DOJ to fully fund the associated costs  








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          of the mandates of this bill, an appropriation of funds,  
          potentially from the General Fund, would be required, as the  
          estimated costs cannot be absorbed in FY 2016-17. With either  
          the aforementioned appropriation or delayed implementation of  
          the bill, the DOJ would have time to submit a Budget Change  
          Proposal to request additional resources via the FY 2017-18  
          budget process. Finally, a new revenue source would need to be  
          identified, as current revenues in the DROS Account are  
          insufficient, and it is unknown at this time whether revenue  
          from registration fees will be sufficient to cover the ongoing  
          costs of this measure.

          Under existing law, unlawful possession of an assault weapon is  
          an alternate felony-misdemeanor punishable as a felony by  
          imprisonment in a county jail for 16 months, two or three years  
          (or in state prison with a current or prior serious or violent  
          felony), or as a misdemeanor by imprisonment in a county jail  
          for up to one year. Under specified circumstances, a first  
          violation for unlawful possession of an assault weapon could  
          result in a fine. Current law also provides that any person who  
          within the state imports, manufactures, offers for sale, or who  
          gives or lends any assault weapon, is guilty of a felony  
          punishable by imprisonment in state prison or county jail for  
          four, six, or eight years. By narrowing the scope of firearms  
          that are legal in the state, this bill expands the scope of the  
          aforementioned crimes.

          Arrest information from the DOJ indicates an increasing number  
          of violations of possession of an assault weapon since 2010,  
          with 825 arrests in 2012. Arrest data for felony violations for  
          the import, sale, manufacture, or loan of an assault weapon  
          reflect a decreasing trend, with 124 arrests in 2012. According  
          to the CDCR, 58 individuals in 2011 and 22 individuals in 2012  
          were committed to state prison specific to these crimes. 

          It is unknown how many persons will be convicted under the  
          expanded scope of these crimes, though it is assumed the  
          convictions could likely be highest in the near-term. For every  
          10 individuals (assuming convictions for both manufacturing/sale  
          and possession), increased state incarceration costs are  
          estimated at $290,000 (General Fund) per year, compounding to  
          $1.2 million due to overlapping sentences (assuming the middle  
          terms of the 4, 6, 8 year triad for manufacturing and 16 month,  
          2, 3 year triad for possession with a prior), based on the range  








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          of potential costs to accommodate extended state prison  
          sentences. To the extent the number of individuals impacted is  
          greater/less or the average sentence imposed is longer/shorter  
          than estimated, annual costs would be impacted accordingly.

          To the extent the provisions of this bill have the effect of  
          reducing the number of semi-automatic rifles currently sold,  
          there would be an impact to both local and state sales tax  
          revenues. It is estimated that Californians spend over $400  
          million annually on rifle purchases. The impact to sales tax  
          revenue cannot be estimated with certainty and would be  
          dependent on numerous factors including the purchasing decisions  
          of consumers. It is estimated that any revenue impact would  
          likely occur in the near term, with the impact in future years  
          projected to be somewhat mitigated to the extent consumers shift  
          to purchases of alternative and/or newly developed firearms.

          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. 

          Proposed Author Amendments:  Technical amendments specify  
          contingent enactment with SB 880 (Hall).


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