Capitol Alert

California bans concealed handguns on college, school campuses

Jane Williams of Napa lobbies Gov. Jerry Brown to sign all the gun bills sent to him after he spoke at the fourth annual Crime Victims' Rights Rally at the Capitol on April 23, 2013.
Jane Williams of Napa lobbies Gov. Jerry Brown to sign all the gun bills sent to him after he spoke at the fourth annual Crime Victims' Rights Rally at the Capitol on April 23, 2013. The Sacramento Bee file

Gov. Jerry Brown on Saturday signed legislation to ban the concealed carry of handguns at colleges and schools, further tightening California firearms restrictions that are already among the strictest in the nation.

Current California law makes it illegal to possess a firearm within 1,000 feet of a school or on a college campus without permission from administrators, but it exempts those with concealed carry permits.

Senate Bill 707, by Sen. Lois Wolk, D-Davis, expands the prohibition on school and college grounds to include concealed weapons, while keeping the same rules in place for the 1,000-foot zone surrounding schools. Active and retire law enforcement officers are not covered by the law.

The fight over whether guns should be allowed on college campuses is gaining prominence nationally. Advocates argue that students may be able to help prevent crimes such as mass shootings and rapes, but gun control supporters counter that throwing firearms onto campuses with young people, alcohol, mental health issues and strongly held beliefs on controversial topics is a dangerous mix.

California joins nineteen other states that have banned campus carry. It is legal in eight states, including Oregon, where a gunman killed nine people at Umpqua Community College last week before taking his own life.

Brown signed SB 707 without comment. It was approved by lawmakers last month on a nearly party-line vote, with Democrats in support and Republicans opposed.

Alexei Koseff: 916-321-5236, @akoseff

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