SACRAMENTO – On June 1, the US Attorney’s office revealed the indictment of two Sacramento County sheriff’s deputies accused of operating an illegal gun trade in the Sacramento area and illegally selling dozens of weapons – some to criminals (more info).

“Unfortunately, there continue to be opportunities for the sale of illegal handguns around our state and that is why I authored AB 2460,” said Assemblymember Roger Dickinson (D-Sacramento).

Assembly Bill 2460 would close the loophole in law that currently allows the private party transfer of “unsafe handguns” to individuals not eligible to buy them. The bill was approved today by the State Senate on a vote of 21-16. The bill has previously been approved by the State Assembly and now goes to Governor Brown for his signature.

“With incidents like the tragic shooting in Aurora, CO becoming more and more common, we must do all we can make our streets safer. AB 2460 will keep ‘unsafe handguns’ out of the hands of people who don’t have a legitimate law enforcement purpose,” said Dickinson. “This bill will improve public safety by closing the gap in current law that has allowed the unrestricted practice of selling unsafe handguns through private party transfers to continue without recourse.”

Since 2001, it has been against California law to sell or purchase unsafe handguns unless one is employed by the Department of Justice, a police department, a sheriff’s official, U.S. Marshal’s office, the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, the California Highway Patrol, any District Attorney’s office, or the military or naval forces of California or the U.S. for use during official duties. These officials have access to such guns under the presumption that law enforcement is expertly trained to handle guns safely.

There is currently a loophole in the law which allows exempt law enforcement officers (listed above) to sell their legally obtained “unsafe handguns” to people who otherwise do not qualify to purchase them through a private party transfer. The officer is required to go through a gun dealer to sell the weapon, but the gun dealer is not required to check to see if the weapon is unsafe, only if the person purchasing is eligible to buy legal guns in California.

Unsafe handguns are guns that are on the “unsafe handgun roster,” the list of currently unlawful guns that cannot be sold to non-law enforcement officers. Examples of the guns on the roster are handguns that fail specified firing and drop safety tests, and guns that do not have a specified safety device such as a chamber load indicator. When the new California microstamping requirement is fully implemented by the Department of Justice, guns that do not meet this standard will be ineligible for sale and included on the roster.

AB 2460 would close the loophole in California law in order to keep unsafe guns out of the hands of those who are not eligible to buy them and protect the integrity of California law when additional public safety and enforcement requirements are added to the guns that are allowed to be sold in the state.

In the U.S., 32 men, women, and children are murdered every day with guns. In California, over 7,700 people are shot every year. U.S. homicide rates are 6.9 times higher than rates in 22 other populous high-income countries combined. Among 23 populous, high-income countries, 80% of all firearm deaths occurred in the United States. Firearm homicide is the second-leading cause of death (after motor vehicle crashes) for young people ages 1-19 in the U.S.

The bill is supported by the California Chapters of the Brady Campaign, the California Police Chiefs Association, and the Legal Community Against Violence.