It may be illegal for law enforcement to leave unsecured weapons in their cars soon, if a proposed piece of state legislation — mirroring a proposed San Francisco ordinance — becomes law.
Senate Bill 869, introduced Tuesday by state Sen. Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo, was prompted by four Bay Area killings in 2015. In all of those cases, the guns involved were stolen when left unsecured in the cars of police.
“Officers’ guns must be securely stored if they are left in vehicles,” Hill said. “This is a matter of basic public safety and common sense. My bill would ensure that the requirements for safe gun storage in vehicles are the same for everyone in California — law enforcement officers and civilians.”
The law, which closes a loophole for law enforcement, requires police officers and others to secure handguns left in vehicles. That requirement is already required of others.
“The danger, the hazard and the risk is there regardless if it’s a civilian handgun or a police officer handgun,” said Hill.
While most law enforcement agencies already have policies requiring officers to make their guns secure, the new bill would fine anyone $1,000 if they broke the law.
Three recent killings have been linked specifically to stolen handguns left in cars in San Francisco. The gun of a Bureau of Land Management employee was used in the July 1, 2015, killing of Kate Steinle on Pier 14. Later last year in October another stolen gun was allegedly used by three drifters to first kill a Canadian tourist, Audrey Carey in Golden Gate Park, and then days later, a hiker in Marin County.
Another killing, in which the victim was an Oakland muralist, also involved the stolen gun of a law enforcement officer.
Aside from killings, there are other instances of Bay Area law enforcement losing their guns — including Berkeley’s police chief — to theft after leaving their weapons unsecured in cars.
The proposed law mirrors a proposed local ordinance by Supervisor David Campos that effectively has the same requirement in The City.
“I have been hoping that our legislation would push the state to act and am happy to hear that the state is following our lead,” Campos said.
Campos’ legislation comes back to the board Jan. 21.