California Senate Bill 55 is the first piece of proposed legislation to be born out of the University of California Firearm Violence Research Center (UCFC), the first and only state-funded institution dedicated to the study of gun violence. The bill was introduced by State Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson on December 12 and, if adopted, would ban Californians convicted of multiple DUI offenses or a vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated charge from owning or possessing firearms for a period of 10 years. “Prior alcohol-related convictions were associated with a four- to fivefold increase in risk of incident arrest for a violent or firearm-related crime,” said Jackson’s office.
Historically, Congress has not allowed the federal Centers for Disease Control to collect data on gun violence, said Jackson, and there has been no data to show cause and effect. Now that the research is being conducted, “It is our responsibility to respond aggressively [to the data] to stop as much violence as we can,” she said.
The bill is based on research conducted in 2017 by UCFC Director Dr. Garen J. Wintemute. It revealed that more than one-third of individuals convicted of alcohol-related crimes were arrested for a violent or firearm-related crime within 14 years of purchasing a handgun. “Prior convictions for alcohol-related crime may be an important predictor of risk of future criminal activity among purchasers of firearms,” wrote Wintemute and his colleagues in their abstract.
The bill was introduced a month after the mass shooting in Thousand Oaks that left 13 people dead, including Mark Meza, a former Carpinteria High School student. While the legislation isn’t directly related, Jackson is committed to continuing to support research-based laws to prevent firearm violence. “Going forward, [UCFC’s] findings will be taken very seriously,” she said.