(SACRAMENTO) — Assemblymember Luis Alejo (D-Salinas) has introduced two measures focused on strengthening public safety in communities across California. One of the bills, AB 1609, seeks to address illegal interstate gun trafficking while the other bill, AB 1585, aims to protect victims of human trafficking.
“I support the 2nd Amendment,” says Alejo. “But I have seen too many families torn apart by criminal behavior involving firearms. I will not sit by idly and wait for more because the safety of our children and families must be a top priority. I will fight for their protection.”
The first bill, AB 1609, will authorize the California Attorney General to prosecute individuals who bring firearms into the state illegally. Data provided by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives indicates that approximately 59-65% of guns seized in California are either untraceable or registered outside of the state.
“I represent the City of Salinas, which has one of the highest rates of gun violence amongst young offenders in the nation,” states Alejo. “I am confident that this bill will reduce the number of guns on the streets—not only in Salinas, but in other vulnerable cities around the state.”
Moreover, Governor Jerry Brown’s proposed budget allocates nearly $3.5 million to the California Department of Justice in order to conduct investigations focused on preventing illegal gun trafficking in accordance with state and federal law. AB 1609 merely provides the Attorney General with additional tools to prosecute this type of illegal behavior.
“AB 1609 gives state law enforcement the tools to enforce what is now federal law and further deter illegal and reckless firearm conduct,” comments Alejo. “This bill will not affect those who abide by the law, only those who break it.”
AB 1609 reflects a number of concerns that have been raised regarding the state’s ability to regulate the transfer of firearms that were purchased out of state. It is widely agreed that this type of conduct violates federal law. However, there are ambiguities regarding the state’s authority on the matter.
Specifically, federal law dictates that guns can be acquired outside of the state, but California law requires that the transaction must be brokered through a federal firearms licensee that is also registered with the state. Currently, it is unclear if state authorities have the ability to enforce these requirements. AB 1609 clarifies that it does.
The second bill, AB 1585, will help victims of human trafficking by providing them an option for a new start with a clean conviction record. Currently, it is common for victims of human trafficking to be convicted for crimes such as prostitution despite any wrong-doings against them. Often, this becomes a problem during the criminal history background check process for victims trying to start a new life.
“Human trafficking has become a serious issue in our state, with people being bought, sold and smuggled like modern-day slaves,” says Alejo. “It affects all types of people and often has a long lasting effect on victims and their families. These individuals have seen the worst of society and they deserve a pathway to a normal life.”
Both bills will be eligible to be heard in a California State Assembly policy committee after 30 days of being in print.
Luis Alejo represents the 30th District in the California State Assembly, which consists of the Salinas Valley, Monterey County, San Benito County, South Santa Clara County and the city of Watsonville in Santa Cruz County.