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Portantino’s Gun Control and Peace Officer Training Reform Bills On Governor’s Desk

Published on Thursday, September 16, 2021 | 5:05 pm
Sen. Anthony Portantino courtesy of Senator Anthony Portantino Youtube page

A bill that creates gun purchase safeguards and expands independent review of police shootings is awaiting Gov. Gavin Newsom’s signature.

Senate Bill 715, authored by state Sen. Anthony Portantino, D-Pasadena, closes the loophole that allowed the suspect in the Poway synagogue shooting to purchase a rifle and kill one person.

Although the suspect in that case was under 21 and did not have a valid hunting license, he was able to buy a rifle because existing state law does not require such verification during the 10-day background check process.

The bill also clarifies what qualifies as an unarmed civilian to prompt independent investigations of officer-involved shootings by the Attorney General’s Office. The measure would authorize the state prosecutor to investigate and gather facts in an incident involving a shooting by a peace officer that results in the death of a civilian if there is a reasonable dispute as to whether that civilian was armed.

Existing law, Assembly Bill 1506, authorizes the state prosecutor to investigate only an officer-involved shooting of an unarmed civilian.

Last year, a Pasadena Police Department officer fatally shot local resident Anthony McClain. Because Pasadena police claimed McClain was armed, the incident was not eligible for a state Department of Justice investigation. But under SB 715, the shooting would be eligible for a DOJ investigation.

“As Pasadenans came together to commemorate the one year since Anthony McClain’s death, it highlighted the need for the type of independent investigation outlined in our bill as well,” said Portantino.

Portantino also co-authored Assembly Bill 89 which increases the minimum qualifying age to become a police officer from 18 to 21. This aligns with the minimum firearm purchase age required in California. In addition, it requires the state community college system to develop a modern policing degree program with the Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST).

AB 89 includes efforts to diversify police ranks and includes financial assistance strategies for students of historically underserved and disadvantaged communities that have traditionally faced barriers to higher education.

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