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California Senate approves bill in response to Isla Vista massacre

Senate approves bill requiring officers to check database on gun owners before contacting troubled individuals

The state Senate on Friday gave final legislative approval to a measure, proposed in response to the Isla Vista massacre, that would help identify whether troubled individuals are armed.

Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara) introduced the bill, which now goes to the governor for consideration, after 22-year-old Elliot Rodger went on a rampage in Isla Vista in May, killing six UC Santa Barbara students and injuring 13 other people.

At the request of family members concerned about Rodger, police prior to the incident had conducted a welfare check -- contacting the individual to see if he is OK -- but did not discover that he owned guns.

The legislation would require law enforcement agencies to adopt policies that would encourage officers conducting welfare checks on individuals thought to be a possible danger to themselves and others to review the state’s gun-owners database to see if weapons are owned by the subjects of the checks.

“What we do know is if we have this tool in the toolbox perhaps we can help prevent such an incident in the future,” Jackson said.

Sen. Steve Knight (R-Palmdale), a former LAPD officer, said welfare checks are difficult for police because officers usually don’t have much information on the individuals they are contacting.

“Any more information or any tangible thing we can take on those calls is very helpful,” Knight told his colleagues. “This is going to help keep police officers safe and make welfare checks safer for everybody.” The vote on SB 505 was 32-0.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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