California: FPC Efforts Lead to Critical Amendments of Assembly Bill 443; No Longer Anti-Gun Bill

AB 443 Pub. Safety Support/Opposition
Assembly Pub. Safety Committee Support/Opposition list for AB 443.

SACRAMENTO, CA – A California Assembly Bill that would have added “trafficking in firearms or other deadly weapons” and “trafficking in endangered species” to the list of acts which would constitute criminal profiteering activity was amended last week, completely removing two provisions fiercely opposed by Firearms Policy Coalition.

In an April 8, 2015 letter of opposition, Firearms Policy Coalition President Brandon Combs explained that AB 443, authored by Assemblyman Luis Alejo, “would enact a new vehicle for the seizure of valuable personal property over an alleged violation of a new legal term [trafficking in firearms or other deadly weapons]….that, perplexingly, escapes definition in the very bill that codifies it.”

“This measure is a small amount of firearm-centered lipstick on another civil forfeiture pig; moreover, the bill’s vague and poorly-crafted language does not represent the caliber of law that Californians deserve.”

As introduced, the bill would also have allowed a prosecuting agency to file a petition of forfeiture prior to the commencement of the underlying criminal proceeding if the value of the assets seized exceeds $10,000, among other conditions. FPC notes that many private firearms collections are worth more than $10,000.

In response to the April 21 amendments, Combs sent Alejo a letter thanking him for “considering the merits of our arguments and making appropriate changes” to the bill.

“Accordingly,” he said, “we have changed our position on AB 443 from ‘oppose’ to ‘watch.'”

Firearms Policy Coalition thanks the ACLU, the California Attorneys for Criminal Justice, and the California Public Defenders Association for their efforts on the measure.

AB 443 is sponsored by Attorney General Kamala Harris and was supported by the anti-gun group Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, among others.