Gun control has long been a controversial topic, but the conversation has become even more heated with the rise of mass shootings and domestic terrorism. In an effort to balance gun rights with public safety, California lawmakers have introduced a bill that would prevent people who are convicted of hate crimes from owning guns.
Assembly Bill 785 – introduced by Assemblyman Reggie Jones-Sawyer (D-Los Angeles) – would prohibit people who have committed a hate crime from possessing or purchasing a firearm for 10 years after their conviction.
Expanding Current Law to Hate Crimes
Under current law, you are prohibited from possessing or purchasing firearms if you are convicted of a violent misdemeanor or misdemeanor involving the use or threatened use of a firearm. However, Assemblyman Jones-Sawyer has pointed out that the law has an “absurd” loophole.
According to Jones-Sawyer, the list of misdemeanors classified under this law does not include PC 422.6, which makes it a crime to use force or threats of force to injure, intimidate or threaten another person based on that person’s race, ethnicity, religion, nationality, disability, gender or sexual orientation. Therefore, people convicted of this crime are not prohibited from possessing a firearm for 10 years.
AB 785, which is being called the Disarm Hate Act, would close that loophole. Jones-Sawyer says it will “help keep weapons out of the hands of those who have demonstrated a dangerous readiness to escalate bigotry into criminal threats and violence.”
Why Pass This Law Now?
Opponents to AB 785 worry that the language is so broad that it could apply to petty crimes. Jones-Sawyer believes this proposed law would help curb gun violence without infringing on the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens. Continue reading →