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Police Face Liability For Carrying Handguns Deemed "Unsafe" Under New Gun Law

Monday, February 5, 2001

Replacing Police Firearms Could Cost Millions Police Departments throughout the state are struggling to address their increased liability for firearm accidents inadvertently created by SB 15 - 1999 (Polanco, D-Los Angeles). SB 15 declares every handgun "unsafe" unless it passes a series of state mandated performance tests. Because the bill only allows manufacturers to submit guns for testing, and because only current production handgun models have been submitted by those manufacturers, all previous production models carried by police departments across the state are branded "unsafe" by the law, regardless of their quality and safety features. Although law enforcement agencies are exempt from restrictions on buying the guns under the new law, the is no provision immunizing them from the increased liability resulting from carrying an untested "unsafe" handgun. In response to a Public Records Act request done at the behest of the CRPA and NRA, police departments across the state identified the guns they have approved for on and off duty carry. Most of these firearms have not been tested, and many would not pass even if they were. For example, the unique guns carried by the California Highway Patrol are currently untested and thus "unsafe" under the provisions of the new law. Several attorneys representing city and county governments have already advised their police departments against allowing the guns to be carried by their officers, and have contacted the Attorney General about the increased liability problem. At least one Department, Fresno`s Sheriff, has already revised its policy so officers can`t carry untested guns. Although the Attorney General`s office has denied that police departments face increased exposure, their position is based on the assumption that all police guns would pass the required tests. The Attorney General has not addressed the issue of police liability for carrying guns, either on or off duty, that the department has approved but that would not pass the tests, or whether not testing police guns might itself be negligence. Police practices are also starting to be reviewed by risk assessment departments and municipal insurance companies. Law enforcement agencies may have to spend millions of taxpayer dollars to buy new current production guns to replace the ones they have now in order to avoid costly lawsuits resulting from the use of "unsafe" handguns by their own personnel. This will necessitate their current guns either being destroyed or sold out of state. Jim Erdman, Executive Director of the CRPA, stated: "This is exactly the same situation as if the state, by law, had declared everything except this year`s models of automobiles to be unsafe and made illegal for used car dealers to sell them . . . and it is every bit as unsound in logic and fairness to millions of Californians who either own last year`s model already or would like to shop at a dealership to buy one." Many law enforcement agencies, on advice of legal counsel, are also prohibiting civilian holders of permits to carry concealed weapons from carrying non-current production, untested handgun models. "Since most carry high quality guns they have owned for a long time, the new law will force them to buy another gun that is in current production just to be in compliance with the unintended consequences of SB15," says Erdman. "The real effect of SB15 will be the sale of more guns, not less. And with respect to models not currently in production, many will no doubt be sold illegally on the streets and other places instead of through a licensed firearm dealer. Dealer sales include registration, a criminal and mental history background check, and a buyer`s ten day waiting period. Non-dealer sales do not. This is what happens when bills are rushed through the legislative process without adequate consideration being given to the details of their drafting and implementation. The liability concerns follow a California Legislative Counsel`s Office (which acts as the legal counsel to the State Legislature) opinion issued just last week (#21239) interpreting SB 15 and condemning a California Department of Justice (DOJ) policy allowing dealers to conduct consignment sales of untested handguns. As a result, gun dealers who, relying on the DOJ policy, facilitated private party "consignment" sales of handguns since the first of the year face possible prosecution. The registered handgun sales are subject to invalidation, and the registered guns may be confiscated. And most gun dealers, who relied on private party consignment sales for the majority of their profits, face insolvency.


Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Appropriations Act Signed Into Law With Important Pro-Second Amendment Provisions

On Wednesday, November 25, the President signed S. 1356, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2016 into law. Included in the bill were some very important pro-gun provisions that represent the culmination of long-term efforts by ...


Friday, November 27, 2015

President Obama Signs NRA-Backed Measures into Law

President Barack Obama signed into law the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). It includes several NRA-backed provisions -- expanding gun rights on stateside military bases; prohibiting the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from banning traditional ammunition; and saving taxpayer dollars ...

Gun Laws  

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Guide To The Interstate Transportation Of Firearms

CAUTION: Federal and state firearms laws are subject to frequent change. This summary is not to be considered ...


Friday, May 15, 2015

Obama Administration Opposes CMP Handgun Sales

The House of Representatives has approved Congressman Mike D. Rogers’ amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act, which—if accepted in ...


Friday, November 20, 2015

“F” Stands for Fail: Gun Turn-in Event Nets a Stack of Paper Pledges and Some Surplus Sporting Goods

Recently, we reported on Hillary Clinton’s praise for local firearm “buyback” events and her view that forcing Americans to participate ...


Friday, November 20, 2015

Anti-gun Politicians, Media Exploit Paris Attacks in “Terrorist Gap” Rehash

The Paris terrorist attacks were not easily pinned on America’s supposedly lax gun laws or the NRA, but ...

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Michigan: Governor Snyder Signs Firearm Inheritance Protection Act

Today, November 24, Governor Rick Snyder (R) signed Senate Bills 225 and 226.


Friday, November 20, 2015

Overwhelming 81 Percent of Current and Former Military have Unfavorable View of Clinton

More bad news for Hillary Clinton. Coming off the heels of survey results that found the former Secretary ...


Friday, November 20, 2015

Brussels Pushes Gun Control in Wake of Paris Attacks

On November 18, the European Commission expedited a plan to overhaul the European Union’s already restrictive gun control laws. The ...

Washington Times  

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

White House to GOP: Worry about gun control

The White House said Monday that Republicans concerned about Syrian refugees waging terrorist attacks in the U.S. should focus their energy instead on banning guns sales to people on the government’s terrorist watch list.


Established in 1975, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the "lobbying" arm of the National Rifle Association of America. ILA is responsible for preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals in the legislative, political, and legal arenas, to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.