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Criminal Justice

In Wake Of Monterey Park Mass Shooting, New Gun Laws Proposed

Police SUVs are parked in front of a barricade with "Road Closed" and "Do Not Enter" signs. A line of red and white tented stalls are set up on the other side and recede into the distance. A red banner stretches over the road overhead that has Chinese characters and in English, "Happy Year of the Rabbit," and includes what looks to be the name of a corporate sponsor, Yaamava' Resort and Casino at San Manuel.
Police work near the scene after January's mass shooting in Monterey Park.
(Robyn Beck
AFP via Getty Images)
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State Assemblyember Mike Fong (D-Alhambra) is proposing two pieces of gun-related legislation in the wake of the Monterey Park shooting. One bill would improve the process of taking guns away from people who have been ordered by a court to relinquish their firearms. The other would prohibit law enforcement agencies from reselling weapons they seize.

A third bill by Fong would require local government agencies to provide information during emergencies in languages spoken by the local community.

AB 732: Strengthening the gun seizure law

AB 732 would strengthen the process for removing firearms from people who are prohibited from owning them because of certain criminal convictions, including domestic violence and felonies. People who have been involuntarily admitted to a facility for a mental health disorder more than once in a year also may not possess a gun.

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The bill would increase the role of judges and prosecuting attorneys in making sure someone relinquishes their weapons at the time of conviction, according to Cristine DeBerry, executive director of The Prosecutors Alliance of California, which sponsored the legislation.

“Generally the court will read an admonition to the person saying if you have any weapons in your possession, you need to surrender them,” DeBerry said. “But not much else happens after that. So it's left to the individuals to make the effort.”

While the shooter in Monterey Park was not prohibited from owning a weapon, AB 732 “is a recognition that we have to do more to get guns out of the hands of criminals,” said UCLA Law Professor Adam Winkler, who specializes in gun law. “Historically we haven't done enough to go get those guns.”

The California Department of Justice reports that each year about 5,000 people are added to its Armed Prohibited Persons System (APPS) due to a criminal conviction. According to the California Department of Justice, there are 23,869 who are prohibited from possessing a firearm yet continue to have a gun registered in their name as of Jan. 1, 2023.

Fong’s bill would require probation officers to provide their reports on compliance to not just the court but to the prosecuting attorney. It would also require the court to, upon receipt of the report, “immediately order for the search and removal of any firearms if the court finds probable cause that the defendant failed to relinquish their firearms, as specified, or to extend the time for providing proof of relinquishment to 14 days for good cause.”

In addition, AB 732 would require local police and sheriff’s departments to designate an individual to receive state DOJ reports on who is prohibited from owning a gun, and to report back to the DOJ annually on their agencies’ efforts to retrieve those weapons.

The proposals are “not radical thinking,” District Attorney George Gascón said. “They’re really common sense.”

AB 733: Banning law enforcement gun sales

In the days after the Monterey Park shooting, the L.A. County Board of Supervisors discovered its own probation department was about to sell off a cache of guns it had seized. It banned the sale.

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AB 733 would ban such sales of guns, ammunition and body armor by any state or government agency in California.

AB 1638: In-language emergency updates

Fong said the lack of language-appropriate communication during the Monterey Park massacre demonstrated the need for AB 1638, which would require emergency notifications in languages used by more than 10% of the local populace. The L.A. County Sheriff’s Department only provided updates in English and Spanish. Nearly two-thirds of Monterey Park’s population is Asian, an overwhelming majority of whom are Chinese American.

“The lack of in-language updates led to the spread of misinformation amongst Chinese-speaking residents,” Fong said in explaining why he introduced AB 1638. “Hours after the gunman was no longer a threat, many still believed that he was on the loose.”

“That bill could have really helped us in communicating with the victims and their families,” Monterey Park Mayor Jose Sanchez said of AB 1638.

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