Tracing of Firearms Used in Crimes Will Improve Under Bill Signed By Governor
SACRAMENTO – A bill, authored by Assemblymember Bill Quirk (D-Hayward), to help law enforcement trace the origins of firearms used in crimes has been signed into law.
The Automated Firearms System (AFS), managed by the California Department of Justice (DOJ), provides a comprehensive tracing of every gun recovered by law enforcement. The AFS details the initial distribution of a firearm to the point of retail purchase. Information is entered into the database on firearms that are used in crimes and are recovered by law enforcement. This can be critical in helping identify patterns in illegal firearms sales. However, due to variation in reporting requirements, the data is incomplete.
“Currently in California, only Police Chiefs and Sherriff’s Departments are required to log information on recovered firearms in the AFS. This means that there is a huge gap in the amount of information known about stolen or illicitly used firearms,” explained Assemblymember Quirk.
According to data from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives National Tracing Center (ATF) out of 170,000 guns used in crimes throughout the country in 2014, 28% were used to commit crimes in a state other than the one they were purchased in.
AB 2222 will require all law enforcement agencies log information on recovered guns into AFS within seven days of coming into possession of it.
“We thank Assemblymember Quirk for introducing AB 2222 and Governor Brown for signing this important bill into law. Entering trace data promptly and consistently gives law enforcement the ability to solve crimes more quickly, as well as the ability to spot suspicious patterns in the supply of crime guns and identify corrupt dealers engaged in illegal sales or gun trafficking. Unanimous support from the California Legislature is a clear sign that we all believe this new law will go a very long way in our efforts to keep our state safe from gun violence,” stated Amanda Wilcox, Legislation and Policy Chair for the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, California Chapter.
“The lack of comprehensive data entry regarding firearm recovery leaves dangerous gaps in public safety. Adequate gun tracing policies allow for law enforcement to recognize and identify the circumstances under which a gun leaves the legal marketplace, enters the illicit secondary market and is used to commit a crime. AB 2222 will provide a critical tool for law enforcement in keeping firearms out of the hands of dangerous individuals or identify irresponsible sellers,” said Assemblymember Quirk upon learning his bill was signed into law.
AB 2222 will go into effect on January 1, 2019.