Constituents’ Ideas Fuel Bills by Senator Jerry Hill to Improve Gun Store Security and
Reduce Fine for Right-on-Red Violations
Legislation Emerges from Ninth Annual “Oughta Be A Law…Or Not” Contest
SACRAMENTO – Senator Jerry Hill introduced legislation today to strengthen security at gun stores and to reduce fines for “right-on-red” violations – the winning ideas from constituents in his ninth annual “Oughta Be a Law…or Not” contest.
Senate Bill 464 strengthens storage requirements for firearms at gun stores when they are closed for business. While giving proprietors options, the bill lays out steps for making stores more resistant to break-in attempts – even if thieves attempt to batter down doors, walls or windows with a car.
SB 493 would reduce the base fine for failing to come to a complete stop before turning right at a red light to $35 so that the fine is comparable to the penalty for other minor moving violations. Currently the base fine is $100, a figure that can mount to hundreds of dollars in further penalties and fees.
The winning bill ideas were among more than 250 received by Senator Hill for this year’s contest. The “Ought Be a Law…Or Not” contents encourages constituents to submit ideas for legislation that would improve the lives of Californians by proposing a new law, or by urging that an outdated law be taken off the books or amended.
“Both of these bill ideas can go a long way to address serious concerns,” said Senator Hill, D-San Mateo and Santa Clara Counties. “The first speaks to the increasing need for firearm safety and security, and the second responds to a situation that is unfair and is a perennial cause of concern and commentary among constituents.”
SB 464 requires that when a gun store is closed, all guns be kept in a secure “facility” on the premises – an area that has steel bars on the windows, deadbolts or a metal grate on doors, and steel bars, metal grating or an alarm system to protect ventilation ports. SB 464 also requires gun store owners to choose from one of two additional security measures: The proprietors must either take their guns out of their display cases and lock them in a safe or vault, or lock up the guns in display cases with a steel rod or cable through the trigger guards. Proprietors who store guns in their display cases when the shop is closed must also place steel or concrete pillars in front of the store.
Redwood City resident Anthony Lazarus said a gun store theft on the Peninsula prompted him to enter the contest. Thieves made off with an undisclosed number of weapons after driving a sedan into the front door of a San Carlos gun store, then breaking into display cases.
“I wondered what could be done about it,” Mr. Lazarus said. “A quick Internet search showed this was not an isolated incident; in fact, these ram-and-grabs seemed to be happening across California. Businesses like grocery stores protect their entryways, so I figured, why couldn't gun stores?”
Current law requires gun store owners to implement only one of three security measures: Proprietors can store their guns in a secure facility – one that has bars on the windows and deadbolts on the doors – or they can put their guns in a safe, or they can use a steel rod or cable to secure them. Alone, each measure has proven insufficient to prevent thefts, especially if a vehicle is used as a battering ram.
Burglars used cars to smash into gun stores in Ceres, Elk Grove, Folsom, Petaluma, Rocklin, Sunnyvale and Ventura in 2016. In some cases, no weapons were stolen; in others, the number of firearms taken were undisclosed. Figures are not compiled specifically on gun store thefts involving cars used as battering rams. Overall, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives reported that 797 guns were stolen from federally licensed firearms dealers in California from 2012 to 2015.
Safe and secure gun storage is the focus of two other bills by Senator Hill. Passed in 2016, SB 869 took effect this year and requires law enforcement officers to lock their handguns out of sight when leaving firearms in an unattended vehicle. Earlier this legislative session, Senator Hill introduced SB 22 to require law enforcement agencies to regularly inventory and track their guns.
SB 493 corrects the fine level for drivers who make “California stops” by rolling through a red light when turning right, instead of coming to a full stop before turning. The violation was inadvertently included in 1997 legislation, AB 1191 (Shelley), which was intended to increase the penalties for more dangerous offenses, such as running straight through red lights and left-turn violations. Even the bill’s author later conceded the mistake.
The costs for red light tickets have increased dramatically. In 1997 before AB 1191 was passed, the total cost for a red light violation was about $100, including fines and penalties. After the legislation became law, the total cost climbed to $270. Today, red light violations – including right-on-red offenses – can cost nearly $500 with fines and penalties.
John Dillon of San Bruno, who submitted the idea last year, said the high sums are not on par with the offense and can be onerous for households on fixed incomes or for low-income families. Two other constituents have since contacted Senator Hill’s office to express their support for efforts to reduce the base fine. In all, constituents have contacted Senator Hill’s office more 50 times on the issue in recent years.
SB 493 does not change other aspects of right-on-red violations, only the amount of the base fine. Turning right on a red light without making a full stop would continue to be illegal and would continue to add a point to a driver’s record.
Gun Store Security Bill - Initial Bill Text http://sd13.senate.ca.gov/sites/sd13.senate.ca.gov/files/BillText_GunStoreSecurity_2017.pdf
Right on Red @017 - Initial Bill Text http://sd13.senate.ca.gov/sites/sd13.senate.ca.gov/files/BillText_Right-On-Red_2017.pdf