SACRAMENTO – Today the Legislature passed AB 1598, which will ensure that potential firearm purchasers are made aware of the risks of owning and bringing a firearm into the home, as well as learn about California’s life-saving firearm laws. The bill expands what is covered on the firearm safety certificate (FSC) test, requires that FSC applicants receive a study guide with this safety information prior to the test, and requires that safety information be provided at point of sale. AB 1598 now awaits Governor Gavin Newsom’s signature.
“Many people buy firearms because they think it will make them safer at home. The evidence is indisputable, however: keeping a firearm in your home dramatically increases the likelihood that you or someone you love will be a victim of gun violence,” said Assemblymember Berman. “The data clearly shows that having a firearm at home increases the risk of death or serious injury by suicide, homicide, or unintentional injury. The myth that having a gun at home will keep you safe disproportionately harms women, who are uniquely impacted by the presence of a firearm in the home. In fact, the National Domestic Violence Hotline reports that the presence of a gun in the home increases the risk of homicide for women by 500 percent. AB 1598 will ensure that Californians are fully informed of the risks of gun ownership before they make the purchase.”
“This will give firearm owners accurate information about the risks posed by having a firearm in the home, and about protective orders for high-risk situations when someone is at risk of harm. With this, they can make more informed, independent, and responsible decisions about their firearms and the safety of their families,” said Amy Barnhorst, MD, psychiatrist and Associate Director of the California Firearm Violence Research Center at UC Davis.
"Family physicians have long recognized that gun violence is a national public health epidemic," said California Academy of Family Physicians (CAFP) President Raul Ayala, MD, MHCM. "We care for victims of gun violence every day. Gun violence is a physical and psychological trauma that affects the health of our patients, families, and communities. AB 1598 is part of a needed comprehensive public health approach to address the gun violence epidemic by requiring education and demonstrated knowledge about the responsibilities of gun ownership and operation. Thank you Assemblymember Berman for helping family physicians care for and protect our patients and communities from the devastating effects of gun violence."
"We applaud the passage of AB 1598 and encourage Governor Newsom to sign it into law. At Giffords, we know that gun violence is a complex problem that must be met with a range of solutions. We’re fighting every day for laws, policies, and programs proven to save lives and bring an end to this uniquely American epidemic. Our Gun Owners for Safety coalition promotes responsibility and education, which is key to our efforts. AB 1598 ensures that gun owners understand the gravity of being a responsible firearm owner and encourages appropriate safety measures to be taken. We thank Assemblymember Berman for his leadership on this effort, as well as the Legislature's critical leadership in passing a groundbreaking bill that will provide an ongoing funding stream for extremely important programs such as this one (AB 28)," said Sean Holian, State Legislative Director, Giffords.
In 2013, California established the FSC Program to ensure that everyone who buys a firearm is a responsible gun-owner with demonstrated knowledge of safe handling and gun laws. AB 1598 would expand what the FSC test covers by including explicitly the reasons for and risks of owning a firearm and bringing a firearm into the home, including the increased risk of death to someone in the household by suicide, homicide, or unintentional injury. Additionally, this bill would require the test to also cover California’s current laws relating to eligibility to own or possess a firearm, gun violence restraining orders, domestic violence restraining orders, and laws related to privately manufactured firearms. This bill also ensures that FSC applicants are receiving a study guide created by the Department of Justice that provides all the information covered in the test.
Lastly, this bill would require the Department of Justice to create a pamphlet that provides the reasons for and risks of owning and bringing a firearm into the home. This pamphlet would then be provided to firearm purchasers at point of sale at the start of the ten day waiting period.
Assemblymember Berman is also authoring AB 1420 this year which would ensure that the Department of Justice has the authority to inspect and write citations for any violations related to the governing of the sale, transfer, and storage of firearms.
Assemblymember Marc Berman represents the 23rd Assembly District, which includes southern San Mateo County and northern Santa Clara County in the heart of the Silicon Valley. Website of Assemblymember Marc Berman: www.assembly.ca.gov/Berman. Assemblymember Marc Berman’s official headshot is available here.