Civil rights group says some California gun bills and a ballot initiative requiring ammunition tracking and registration are designed to encourage racial profiling, putting minority gun owners at greater risk
SACRAMENTO – Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom, Senate President Kevin de León, and Assembly member Kevin McCarty are all sponsoring measures that require some form of ammunition tracking and registration.
And, says civil rights group Firearms Policy Coalition (FPC), they are all hoping that the public ignores one little-known side effect of their efforts––the promotion of state-sponsored racial profiling.
“Politicians like Senator de León know that these programs encourage racial profiling and they just don’t care,” said Craig DeLuz, FPC’s California lobbyist and spokesperson. “In fact, not only are they aware that their policies result in negative profiling, it’s a core part of their gun control agenda.”
FPC recently published a video explaining the anti-gun strategy and philosophy behind the ammunition tracking and registration measures. The video, available online at https://youtu.be/qAL5Egbi_pI, features public comments made by Anthony Martinez during a 2008 Sacramento City Council meeting where, during a public comment period, the young Latino man shared his experience with the city’s ammunition ordinance.
The Sacramento ordinance was used as a model for SB 1235 (de León), AB 156 (McCarty), and parts of Gavin Newsom’s “Safety for All Act” gun control ballot initiative.
During his testimony, Martinez told the council—which included then-City Councilmember Kevin McCarty—that, mere days after lawfully purchasing ammunition for target shooting, he was told by a Sacramento Police Detective that they needed to run a ballistics test on his firearm to rule him out as a suspect in a recent homicide investigation.
“I was under the impression that they weren’t going to profile normal, law-abiding citizens,” Martinez said. “I have no felonies. Nor do I have a criminal record.”
When questioned, a representative from the Sacramento Police Department told the council that racial profiling is a “common practice” and represents good police work.
The author of SB 1332, Senator de León, agrees.
In fact, the FPC video includes a clip of the Senator saying as much during a 2014 legislative hearing where he noted that most of those who purchase large amounts of ammunition are “white males, over the age of 50,” and those who did not fit that description would warrant suspicion.
“It’s not okay to profile someone for ‘driving while black’ and it’s not okay to profile someone for ‘buying ammunition while black’, either,” commented DeLuz.
SB 1235 and AB 156 recently passed off the State Senate Floor and are on their way to the Assembly. AB 156 was recently “gutted and amended” from a measure that dealt with global warming. It is unclear whether Assembly Speaker Rendon will require the measure to be referred to a policy committee for a full vetting or if he will ignore the rules and allow a concurrence vote on the floor.
Gavin Newsom’s gun control ballot initiative is still awaiting confirmation from the Secretary of State’s Office that it has qualified for the November 2016 ballot. The ammunition provisions within the initiative are identical to de León’s SB 53 from 2014, which failed passage in the State Assembly.