Law enforcement officers investigating allegations that a person may be a danger to himself or others would be required to first check a state database to determine whether the person owns firearms under legislation introduced Wednesday in response to the Isla Vista rampage.
State Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara) authored the bill and another that would make available $5 million in grants to local policing agencies so they can more swiftly confiscate firearms from people prohibited from owning weapons because of mental health or criminal issues.
“Both of these bills are about making better use of the tools and the laws at hand to help prevent gun violence,” Jackson said in a statement.
Santa Barbara County sheriff’s deputies interacted with Elliot Rodger three times in the months before he killed six people in Isla Vista on May 23, including a welfare check conducted after Rodger’s mother and a friend raised concerns about whether he was a danger.
Deputies did not check the state Department of Justice’s Automated Firearms System, the database of gun purchases, before the rampage. The database can be checked from computers in law enforcement vehicles or by phone in as little as 90 seconds, said Jackson, the author of SB 505. Rodger had legally purchased three guns, proof of which would have been available in the database.
“We will never know for sure if the outcome in Isla Vista might have been different with a gun database search,” Jackson said. “But the next time California experiences a similar tragedy, we shouldn’t be left wondering.”
The second bill would provide grants to local law enforcement agencies so they can help clear a backlog of thousands of gun owners who purchased firearms legally but whose weapons should be confiscated because of subsequent criminal convictions or significant mental health problems that disqualify them for gun ownership under California law.
“Improving the access to and efficiency of this database, as well as continuing to fortify our efforts to take these illegally owned weapons off the streets, is a critical step in our efforts to prevent gun violence,” said Sen. Mark Leno, (D-San Francisco), a joint author of the measure.
Last year, Gov. Jerry Brown approved $24 million to help confiscate guns from 20,000 people listed on a state database of those prohibited from owning firearms. The new bill, SB 580, would also provide $10 million to improve the state’s aging databases and $50,000 for training local law enforcement in using the gun-ownership database.