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AB 732, a solution to better enforcement on California’s gun laws?

Posted by Sara Cooper | Aug 24, 2023 | 0 Comments

Any felon including any person who is convicted of certain misdemeanors are banned from buying, owning, possessing, or receiving a gun enforced by California law. If not in custody, it is mandatory that firearms to be turned over within five days of conviction. California is one of the top states in the country to have strong gun restrictions.

Enforcement however is flawed, with courts not checking in if all guns have been confiscated before closure of criminal cases as a first. According to the Los Angeles Times, “Every year, about 5,000 names are added to the state's Armed and Prohibited Persons System, an only-in-California database that cross-references registered gun owners with people who have lost the right to possess firearms because of felony convictions or other restrictions.” This disqualifies thousands of people to be in the rightful position as gun owners.

Assembly Bill 732 by Assemblymember Mike Fong (D-Alhambra) would tighten the process in part by shortening the deadline to 48 hours for people convicted of felonies and qualifying misdemeanors to give up their firearms. This would mean that judges would be blocked from closing criminal cases until firearms are given up, even if the convictions have already occurred. It's a big problem even outside of the state, where judges want to pass through criminal cases as much as possible without proper procedures being completed.

In Fong's district that includes Monterey Park, a deadly shooting on Jan. 21st where a gunman had killed 11 people, injured 9 others, and then killing themselves thereafter was a big wake up call that made gun reform a necessity for the community. According to the Los Angeles Times, “The gun he used was already illegal under California law. But like other firearms restrictions, this one motivated by high-profile gun violence and is intended to help curb it in other situations.”

With California now having one of the lowest gun mortality rates in the nations due to restrictions on firearm access for those that are identified as dangerous, AB 732 would be in addition to these laws that can be interpreted as protections for the state's residents.

There is a division however in whether the felon-in-possession ban would be in collective approval at the federal level, with various interpretations of the 2nd Amendment within the Supreme Court.

The Los Angeles Times describes two SCOTUS cases that focus on the right to guns and the court's rulings for both:

“In District of Columbia vs. Heller in 2008, the court ruled that Americans have a right to guns for self-defense in their homes, but the opinion included this often-cited line that appears to favor California firearm relinquishment laws — "nothing in our opinion should be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill."

Things are less clear after last year's ruling in New York State Rifle & Pistol Assn. vs. Bruen, which struck down a New York law requiring a person to show a special need before being granted a license to carry a concealed weapon. The court in Bruen said constitutionality of a gun restriction turns on whether it's “consistent with this Nation's historical tradition of firearm regulation.””

Fong's bill does not create a new felon-in-possession ban. It simply makes an existing California law easier to enforce.

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