Portantino’s Sensible Gun Control & Peace Officer Training Reform Bills On Governor’s Desk

Wednesday, September 15 2021

For Immediate Release: September 15, 2021

Contact: Lerna Shirinian, (818) 409-0400


Portantino’s Sensible Gun Control & Peace Officer Training Reform Bills On Governor’s Desk

Sacramento, California – Senate Bill 715,  a measure authored by Senator Anthony J. Portantino (D – La Cañada Flintridge) which enacts important gun purchase safeguards and expands independent review of tragic police shootings, was approved by the Legislature and is on the Governor’s desk for signature.  Assembly Bill 89, co-authored by Senator Portantino, reforms and enhances peace officer training and education and also passed the Legislature and is now awaiting the Governor’s signature.  

“There is no question that sensible gun control prevents tragic incidents of gun violence.  I strongly believe, that if the provisions of SB 715 were in effect in 2019, the tragedy that took place in the Poway synagogue would have been prevented,” commented Senator Portantino.  “As Pasadenans came together to commemorate the one year since Anthony McClain’s death, it highlighted the need for the type of independent investigation outlined in our bill as well,” he added.

SB 715 has two main provisions: 

Closes the loophole that led to the synagogue shooting that left one person dead, where the perpetrator of the shooting was able to purchase a rifle, despite being under 21 and not having a valid hunting license.  The validity of the hunting license used to facilitate the purchase was not verified because existing law did not require such verification during the 10-day background check process.

Clarifies what qualifies as an unarmed civilian to prompt independent investigations of officer involved shootings by the Attorney General’s Office.  The measure would authorize the state prosecutor to investigate and gather facts in an incident involving a shooting by a peace officer that results in the death of a civilian if there is a reasonable dispute as to whether that civilian was armed.  Existing law, AB 1506, authorizes the state prosecutor to investigate only an officer involved shooting of an unarmed civilian.

Last year, a Pasadena Police Department officer fatally and tragically shot civilian Anthony McClain.  It is being disputed whether Mr. McClain was armed and therefore the incident was not eligible for a DOJ investigation.  Under SB 715, incidents such as this tragic shooting would be eligible for the same review included in AB 1506.  Assemblymember Kevin McCarty (D –Sacramento) authored AB 1506 and is a co-author of SB 715.

"Ensuring independent investigations of police violence can help make sure that everyone is accountable for gun violence and in turn prevent future shootings,” said Cindy Montoya, a volunteer with California Moms Demand Action.  “We’re grateful to our state lawmakers for prioritizing SB 715 to make our communities safer.”

Despite overwhelming research that education and diversity within our police departments are effective strategies for safer community policing, California does not require an AA or Bachelor’s degree to become POST certified, and too many police departments don’t reflect California’s diversity.  To correct this situation and to create a better trained police force, Senator Portantino introduced SB 387 to establish minimum education requirements to become a sworn police officer.  AB 89, by Assemblymember Jones-Sawyer was similarly introduced in the Assembly.  Midway through the year, the two authors chose to work collaboratively on AB 89, with both the Assemblymember and the Senator as an author and principal co-author.  

The combined effort takes provisions from both SB 387 and AB 89.  It increases the minimum qualifying age from 18 to 21 years to become a peace officer.  This aligns with the minimum firearm purchase age required in California.  In addition, it requires the Community College system to develop a modern policing degree program with the Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST).  AB 89 includes efforts to diversify police ranks and includes financial assistance strategies for students of historically underserved and disadvantaged communities that have traditionally faced barriers to higher education. 

“California must take the lead and ensure that we have the best and most highly trained officers,” stated Senator Portantino.  “Studies and research from public safety experts throughout the country consistently show that increased education and training can help officers approach each interaction in a way that is proven to increase positive public safety outcomes.”

SB 715 and AB 89 continue the Senator’s leadership on public safety reforms.  He has a long history of advocating for smart and sensible solutions to our nation’s tragic history of gun violence.  During his time in the Assembly, the Senator successfully banned the open carry of handguns and rifles in California and as Senator, he raised the general gun purchase age in California to 21. In 2019, Governor Newsom also signed Senator Portantino’s SB 172.  The bill enacted a slate of significant provisions related to firearms storage by broadening criminal storage crimes, adding criminal storage offenses to those offenses that can trigger a 10-year firearm ban, and creating an exemption to firearm loan requirements for the purposes of preventing suicide.  The same year, SB 376 was signed into law, which reduces the number of firearms an unlicensed individual is annually able to sell and the frequency with which they are able to sell.