Soapbox

Prop. 63 would complicate gun laws and hamper law enforcement

A custom-made semi-automatic hunting rifle with a high-capacity detachable magazine is displayed at TDS Guns in Rocklin. Proposition 63 would outlaw possession of large-capacity magazines and require permits to buy ammunition. To read arguments for and against other ballot measures, go to sacbee.com/opinion/op-ed.
A custom-made semi-automatic hunting rifle with a high-capacity detachable magazine is displayed at TDS Guns in Rocklin. Proposition 63 would outlaw possession of large-capacity magazines and require permits to buy ammunition. To read arguments for and against other ballot measures, go to sacbee.com/opinion/op-ed. Associated Press file

For decades, the California Police Chiefs Association has been a leader in developing sensible firearms regulations that balance the need for enhanced safety and the right to responsible gun ownership. Unfortunately, Proposition 63 only adds complexity and cost to our existing laws.

As chairman of the association’s firearms committee, I have worked with the Legislature to reduce the number of dangerous persons with guns and ammunition. In fact, we supported legislation this year to address a major concern raised by Proposition 63, the lack of background checks on ammunition sales.

To remedy that, the Police Chiefs Association helped pass Senate Bill 1235. Written with help and input from various community groups, SB 1235 requires background checks on ammunition purchases at the point of sale. On the other hand, Proposition 63 would create a system that requires individuals to purchase a separate license just to buy ammunition.

Proposition 63 also does not include exemptions that the Legislature provided to allow police departments to continue purchasing ammunition freely for on-duty purposes, a mistake that will cost taxpayers.

Unfortunately, this is not the only existing law this initiative complicates. Our association supported Assembly Bill 1695, which focused on black-market gun sales by penalizing anyone who falsely reports the theft or loss of a firearm. Proposition 63 contains a similar provision, but it instead makes the failure to report a crime. Possible penalties can deter individuals from reporting, as proven in areas with similar local ordinances.

Proposition 63 also creates a new court-ordered process for people who have to relinquish their guns because of a conviction. While CPCA supports efforts to remove firearms from people who clearly should not have them, this new process creates multiple safety risks for the officers trying to seize them. This should have at least been discussed, and law enforcement agencies that will have to enforce this process should have been given the opportunity for input.

Lastly, in most cases it takes a two-thirds vote of the Legislature to amend an initiative, as opposed to a simple majority needed to change legislation. As complex as firearms policy is, there will always be unintended consequences, and addressing that becomes harder under Proposition 63.

CPCA remains committed to enhancing public safety through reasonable firearms reform. However, Proposition 63 offers unnecessary changes that complicate current law and should be rejected by voters.

Rudy Escalante is chairman of the California Police Chiefs Association’s firearms committee. He can be contacted at rescalante@ci.capitola.ca.us.

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