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Committee OKs Wolk bill to expand list of crimes on firearms ban

Daily Democrat
April 18, 2013

The California Senate Public Safety Committee voted 5-2 late Tuesday to approve Senate Bill 755, legislation by Sen. Lois Wolk, D-Davis, that will add to the list of crimes subject to a 10-year firearms prohibition.

"SB 755 focuses on keeping guns out of the hands of gang members, repeat drug and alcohol offenders, and other criminals, while respecting the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding gun owners," said Wolk in a statement. "This legislation is a reasonable, commonsense approach to help prevent gun violence and keep our communities safe."

Under current federal law, all convicted felons, drug addicts, domestic violence offenders, those deemed mentally ill by the courts, and several other categories are prohibited for life from purchasing or possessing firearms or ammunition. California law, passed in 1990, added a 10-year prohibition for those convicted of violent misdemeanors. In 2000, California created the Armed Prohibited Persons System (APPS), which allowed law enforcement to confiscate firearms from individuals subject to federal and state firearms prohibitions.

Wolk's SB 755 makes several additions to the list of crimes subject to a 10-year prohibition in California. The crimes added by SB 755 include multiple drug or alcohol offenses within a three-year period, taking a firearm or weapon from a police officer, threatening an officer, and several gang-related offenses. The measure also applies a gun prohibition to individuals ordered by a court, under Laura's Law, to receive assisted outpatient treatment for serious mental illness.

Among those testifying in support of the measure was Dr. Garen Wintemute, an emergency medicine physician at UC Davis Medical Center, professor of emergency medicine and director of the UC Davis Violence Prevention Research Program.

"SB 755 takes the long-overdue step of addressing alcohol as part of the problem of gun violence," said Wintemute. "Alcohol has long been recognized as a major risk factor for all forms of violence, whether directed at another or oneself, and in retrospect, it's really quite remarkable that with all that California has done in an effort to prevent violence, that it has not done more in this particular area. I applaud Senator Wolk for her work on this measure."

SB 755, which will next be heard in the Senate Appropriations Committee, is supported by a broad coalition of groups including the California Chapters of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, The Christy Lynn Wilson Foundation, Courage Campaign, PICO California, Doctors for America, Youth Alive!, Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence; Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, Bend the Arc: Jewish Partnership for Justice, CLUE California, and the Lutheran Office of Public Policy - California.