BILL ANALYSIS Ó SENATE COMMITTEE ON APPROPRIATIONS Senator Ricardo Lara, Chair 2015 - 2016 Regular Session SB 880 (Hall) - Firearms: assault weapons ----------------------------------------------------------------- | | | | | | ----------------------------------------------------------------- |--------------------------------+--------------------------------| | | | |Version: March 28, 2016 |Policy Vote: PUB. S. 5 - 2 | | | | |--------------------------------+--------------------------------| | | | |Urgency: No |Mandate: Yes | | | | |--------------------------------+--------------------------------| | | | |Hearing Date: May 16, 2016 |Consultant: Jolie Onodera | | | | ----------------------------------------------------------------- This bill meets the criteria for referral to the Suspense File. Bill Summary: SB 880 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. SB 880 (Hall) Page 1 of ? Fiscal Impact: Registration process : Estimated costs of $1.7 million in FY 2016-17, $1.5 million in FY 2017-18, and $37,000 (DROS Fund*/General Fund) annually thereafter, to be fully offset by fees collected from registrants once fully implemented. Staff notes the DROS Fund 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. State prisons : Potentially significant increase in annual state incarceration costs (General Fund) to the extent the narrower 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 : Potential near-term loss of sales tax revenue of $1.6 million (General Fund) per 10 percent of annual rifle sales in California. Future year impact 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) Special 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. As a result, an appropriation from another fund source, potentially the General Fund, may be required to support the activities required by this bill. 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 SB 880 (Hall) Page 2 of ? 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. 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 SB 880 (Hall) Page 3 of ? 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 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. SB 880 (Hall) Page 4 of ? Related Legislation: AB 1135 (Levine) 2016 is nearly identical to this measure. AB 1135 is scheduled to be heard today by this Committee. Prior Legislation: SB 47 (Yee) 2013 was substantially similar to this measure. SB 47 was held on the Suspense File of the Assembly Appropriations Committee. SB 249 (Yee) 2012 was substantially similar to this measure. SB 249 was held on the Suspense File of the Assembly Appropriations Committee. Staff Comments: The DOJ has indicated costs of $1.7 million in FY 2016-17, $1.5 million in FY 2017-18, and $37,000 (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. The additional workload to process registrations after the initial group of registrants is completed is estimated to be minor. 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 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 to January 1, 2018, 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 to cover the increased costs. SB 880 (Hall) Page 5 of ? 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 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 and over 300,000 rifles are sold each year. For every 10 percent reduction in annual sales, SB 880 (Hall) Page 6 of ? state sales tax revenues are estimated to drop by approximately $1.6 million (General Fund). It is estimated that the impact is likely 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. Amendments to be taken in Committee: The author has agreed to take the following technical amendments to Section 2 of the bill to update incorrect cross-references: Section 30680 is added to the Penal Code, to read: 30680.
Notwithstanding the meaning of "assault weapon" under Section 30515, as amended by the act that added this section,Section 30605 does not apply to the possession of an assault weapon by a person who has possessed the assault weapon prior to January 1, 2017, if all of the following are applicable: (a) Prior to January 1, 2017, the person was eligible to register that assault weapon pursuant to subdivision (c)(b) of Section 30900. (b) The person lawfully possessed that assault weapon prior to January 1, 2017. (c) The person registers the assault weapon by January 1, 2018, in accordance with subdivision (c)(b) of Section 30900. Additionally, an amendment will be taken to add Senator Hancock as a coauthor. SB 880 (Hall) Page 7 of ? -- END --