Stern bill with gun restrictions for juvenile offenders passes Senate

Henry Stern, 27th District State Senator. Courtesy photo
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The state Senate unanimously approved Senate Bill 1281, the Juvenile Gun Safety Act by Sen. Henry Stern, D-Canoga Park, on Thursday.

The bill, supported by law enforcement and student activist groups, looks at the enforcement of firearms prohibitions for individuals who committed serious or violent offenses as juveniles.

Under current law, juveniles who committed such offenses are prohibited from owning firearms until they are 30 years old. However, under a different law that calls for juvenile records to be sealed and destroyed, prosecutors and law enforcement are unable to access the orders creating the prohibition.

This allows individuals to acquire guns on the legal market and carry them without risk of prosecution, even though they are legally prohibited from owning them because of past violent acts, according to a news release from Stern’s office.

“People with violent criminal records should not be able to own or possess guns,” Stern said. “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.”

The intent of the new law is to preserve the effectiveness of the records-sealing law, which gives juvenile offenders a second chance at a law-abiding and productive life.

SB 1281 also aims to make sure 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.

“We, as prosecutors, need access to sealed juvenile records,” Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey said, “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 bill now moves to the state Assembly, where it will be heard in the Committee on Public Safety in June.

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