SACRAMENTO, CA (September 15, 2017) — On the last day of the State of California’s 2017 legislative year, civil rights advocacy organization Firearms Policy Coalition (FPC) is once more calling for an immediate repeal of dangerously unconstitutional laws passed by the California Legislature in Assembly Bill 103 (AB 103), an “urgency” public safety omnibus bill that took effect immediately after it was signed into law on June 27.
AB 103 changed California Penal Code sections 29805 to say that even someone who “has an outstanding warrant for” an alleged violation of other codes and who “owns, purchases, receives, or has in possession or under custody or control, any firearm” is guilty of a crime that is “punishable by imprisonment in a county jail not exceeding one year or in the state prison, by a fine not exceeding one thousand dollars ($1,000), or by both that imprisonment and fine.”
“AB 103 created a serious new, and potentially felony crime for merely being accused of committing some crime and having a gun,” explained FPC’s California lobbyist and spokesperson, Craig DeLuz. “These are the kind of laws that books about dystopian futures are inspired by.”
“I was taught in school that, in America, people are innocent until proven guilty,” DeLuz continued. “Apparently, the California Legislature thinks that all gun owners are guilty of a crime in all cases and must be punished, period. But my copy of the Constitution doesn’t have any ‘gun owner’ exception to fundamental, individual rights like due process and the right to keep and bear arms.”
Prior to the passage of AB 103, FPC sent letters of opposition and floor alerts to every California Assembly member and Senator, warning that it “would make a major and inappropriate policy change to state statute using a budget vehicle” and that it “would be a blatant violation of the public trust to pass AB 103…” DeLuz also met with many elected members and staff, encouraging them to remove the unconstitutional provisions prior to the bill’s passage. But, on June 15, the bill was passed out of the Legislature on a vote that included support by anti-gun Republican Assembly member Catharine Baker.
Then, on June 20, FPC communicated with Governor Jerry Brown, telling him that AB 103 is “a major assault on the due process rights of Californians” and a “violation of legislative process standards,” further requesting a veto of the bill. In a callous display of disregard to the Constitutional and fundamental rights, however, Gov. Brown signed the bill in spite of its facially unconstitutional changes to the law.
After consulting with a number of civil rights attorneys, FPC sent a letter to Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon and Senate President Pro Tempore Kevin de León, explaining that “AB 103 created serious new constitutional problems that should be corrected immediately,” and asking that the “constitutionally-offending text….should and must be deleted completely from both §§ 29805….to restore important constitutional rights and the presumption of innocence.”
“This is not something where a meaningless change is good enough,” said DeLuz about Senate Bill 112 and Assembly Bill 127, two measures that contain a proposed amendment to add a “notice” requirement to section 29805. “The presumption of innocence and due process are too important for legislative sleight of hand. The bottom line is that the only way for the State of California to fix this problem is to completely repeal the offending laws, and that is the only legislative remedy we will accept.”
FPC is also encouraging anyone affected by these unconstitutional laws, and attorneys representing clients affected by the laws, to contact them for potential legal or other support by email at engage[at]fpchq.org or (855) 372-7522.
“The State of California’s unconscionable decision to enact these Orwellian laws makes it necessary to support legal actions to protect civil rights and strike down laws that criminalize the merely accused,” said FPC President Brandon Combs. “Allowing such laws to take root is, to borrow a phrase from then-Chief Judge Alex Kozinski of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, a mistake a free people get to make only once.”
“The more the government pushes restrictions on fundamental freedoms, the more we are obligated to ourselves push back against it,” Combs concluded. “All freedom-loving people must stand together and resist California’s unsettling trend towards radical authoritarianism and the usurpation of individual liberties, whatever the cost.”
Republican Assembly member Catharine Baker (Dublin - 16th District) broke with the caucus and joined anti-gun Democrats in voting to pass the bill. A full list of Senate and Assembly votes on AB 103 can be viewed here.
FPC’s letter requesting a repeal of the unconstitutional laws passed in AB 103 can be viewed at this link.
Firearms Policy Coalition (www.firearmspolicy.org) is a 501(c)4 grassroots non-profit organization. FPC’s mission is to defend the Constitution of the United States, especially the fundamental, individual Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms, through advocacy, legal action, education, and outreach.