In an effort to close a loophole in California gun laws, State Sen. Henry Stern, D- Canoga Park, and the Los Angeles District Attorney’s office (LADA) have introduced SB 1281, the “Juvenile Gun Safety Act.”
The loophole allows individuals who have committed violent offenses as minors to escape prosecution for illegally owning or possessing a firearm in violation of the law.
SB 1281, proposed in the wake of one of the deadliest school shootings in the nation’s history, will ensure that any person who commits a serious crime as a juvenile cannot possess a gun when they successfully complete probation, even if, due to rehabilitation and good behavior, their records have been sealed and cannot be used against them in a court of law, or in applying for college, a job, a credit card, or an apartment.
“Recordkeeping saves lives,” remarked Stern. “People with violent criminal records should not be able to own or possess guns. We need to close the gaps in our background check systems so that, at a bare minimum, minors who commit serious crimes cannot turn around and possess guns once they successfully complete probation.”
Under current state law, individuals convicted of battery, drive by shootings, threatening witnesses and similar violent offenses are often prohibited from owning or possessing firearms. Juvenile offenders, however, can petition to have their records sealed once they successfully complete probation. Once the records are sealed, even gun prohibitions do not appear in a person’s criminal history information. This loophole puts public safety at risk and prompted action from Senator Stern and the Los Angeles District Attorney.
“This bill closes a dangerous gap in our gun laws,” Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey said. “We, as prosecutors, need access to sealed juvenile records so we can enforce existing laws aimed at keeping guns out of the hands of individuals found to have committed violent crimes as minors.”
The above information was provided to The Signal via a news release from Sen. Henry Stern’s office.