SACRAMENTO – Governor Jerry Brown signed legislation authored by Assemblymembers Philip Y. Ting (D-San Francisco) and Jimmy Gomez (D-Northeast Los Angeles) that will hold gun owners criminally responsible for not storing their weapons outside of the reach of children.
“This will save the lives of innocent children across California,” said Ting. “When unsupervised children get their hands on guns, their curiosity can lead to disaster. Gun owners must be held to account for failing to properly store deadly weapons. Now, a disaster need not occur for an irresponsible gun owner to be prosecuted.”
"Gun safety and responsibility rests in the hands of the gun owner," said Gomez. "Ensuring guns are out of the reach of children and holding those accountable who are irresponsible is the first step in reducing firearm accidents."
AB 231 establishes the Firearm Safe and Responsible Access Act, creating a third degree misdemeanor if a person negligently stores or leaves a loaded firearm in a location where they know, or reasonably should know, that a child can access the firearm without permission and the person fails to take proper safety measures. A third degree misdemeanor carries a penalty of up to 6 months in jail and/or a $1,000 fine. The bill also requires licensed gun dealers to post this warning in their place of business with other already required postings of child safe storage laws.
This is a crucial addition to California’s Child Access Prevention (CAP) laws, which establish criminal penalties on gun owners who negligently store their firearms, because it is a preventative measure. Before the signature of this bill, California’s CAP laws were applicable only when a child accesses a gun and causes damage, injury or death and when a child accesses a gun and brings it to a public place, such as a school.
The New York Times recently ran a feature story about the toll of gun accidents on children, available here.
Studies have shown CAP laws are effective in reducing firearm related deaths by increasing responsibility among gun owners. In 12 states where such laws have been in effect for at least one year, unintentional firearm deaths fell by 23 percent among children aged 15 or younger. And, gun suicides fell by 11 percent among teenagers.
Brown’s signature of AB 231 makes California’s CAP laws more closely resemble the laws of states like Minnesota, Massachusetts, and Texas.
Supporters of AB 231 include the Brady Campaign to End Fun Violence, the San Francisco District Attorney, and the American Academy of Pediatrics. Further information about AB 362 is available at http://www.leginfo.ca.gov.
CONTACT: Anthony Matthews (Ting), tel. (916) 319-2019, cell (202) 297-3830, Aaron Keshishian (Gomez), tel. (916) 319-2051, cell (818) 624-4282