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Pasadena Lawmaker’s Bill Would Close Poway Tragedy’s Loophole

Published on Thursday, May 21, 2020 | 12:56 pm
Sen. Anthony J. Portantino

State Sen. Anthony J. Portantino’s (D–Pasadena) legislation to address concerns related to the tragic synagogue shooting in Poway in 2019 passed the Senate Public Safety Committee and will now go to Senate Appropriations.

“We have a gun violence epidemic in our country and it sadly has become all too common to see senseless violence in the news. It is even more appalling that these shootings, including the Poway tragedy, have increasingly targeted houses of worship. California leads the country in combating gun violence but there is more we can do. I’ve made firearm reform a priority.  Sadly, politics often shapes our view of gun control reforms when we should be looking at the devastating impact these weapons have on people’s lives,” commented Portantino.

Senate Bill 914 requires the Department of Justice determine the validity of the hunting license of persons under 21 who are eligible to purchase a firearm during the 10-day waiting period. This bill also defines what constitutes a valid and unexpired hunting license.

The Poway shooting took place on April 27, 2019, the last day of the Jewish Passover holiday. One woman was killed and three other people were injured, including the synagogue’s rabbi.

After fleeing the scene, the alleged gunman phoned 911 and reported the shooting. He was apprehended in his car approximately two miles from the synagogue by a San Diego police officer.

According to detectives, John Timothy Earnest purchased a rifle despite being under 21 and not having a valid hunting license. Parties failed to adequately check the validity of the license at the time of purchase.

In a previous legislative session, Senator Portantino authored a bill that banned the sale of long guns such as the semi-automatic rifles often used in these tragic shootings to those under 21. Exemptions included if the person had a valid hunting license.

The Senator last year passed legislation to close the hunting license exemption for semi-automatic, center-fire rifles and introduced this bill to ensure background checks are done accurately.

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