State, federal bills inspired by Steinle case focus on how law enforcement stores guns

Governor signs new California law; congressman's proposal sent to committee

The shooting death of Pleasanton native Kate Steinle in San Francisco last year by a gun stolen from a federal ranger's car has given rise to new state legislation and a recently introduced federal bill each aimed at stopping law enforcement firearms from getting into the wrong hands.

Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law Monday legislation from a Bay Area state senator that requires new standards for peace officers when storing their guns in their cars.

Approval of the new California law comes less than two weeks after Danville's congressman, Mark DeSaulnier, introduced a bill that would mandate all federal agencies to implement rules to help prevent law enforcement officers' service weapons from being lost or stolen.

"Locking a firearm when it is not in use should be standard practice," DeSaulnier (D-Concord) said in a statement earlier this month. "Yet, the glaring gap in current policies regarding gun safety has led to federal law enforcement weapons being stolen and subsequently used in crimes."

DeSaulnier, who said his proposal would help close that gap, and State Sen. Jerry Hill (D-San Mateo), whose legislation was signed by the governor Monday, each pointed to the Steinle case and the shooting death of a muralist in Oakland last year among the stolen-gun incidents that motivated their respective bills.

Steinle, 32, was killed on San Francisco's Pier 14 the afternoon of July 1, 2015 by a bullet -- that ricocheted off the ground -- fired from a gun that had been stolen from the car of a U.S. Bureau of Land Management ranger, according to investigators.

A little more than two months later, 27-year-old Antonio Ramos was shot dead as he worked on a mural in Oakland, with the gun stolen from a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officer's car, according to investigators in that case.

Hill's Senate Bill 869 -- known as "Firearms: securing handguns in vehicles" -- requires all peace officers, as well as any other person, when leaving a handgun in an unattended car to lock the firearm in the trunk or place the gun in a locked container that is not in plain view.

As Hill said when he introduced the legislation, it aims to close a loophole that makes officers "exempt from the safety requirements for guns left in a car that apply to everyone else."

A violation would be punishable by a fine of up to $1,000. The regulation does not apply to a peace officer "during circumstances requiring immediate aid or action that are within the course of his or her official duties."

Meanwhile in Congress, DeSaulnier on Sept. 14 introduced his "Federal Law Enforcement and Public Protection Act," House Resolution 6024.

The freshman congressman's bill would force the leaders of all civilian and military federal law enforcement agencies to create rules requiring their officers to store and safely lock their firearms when not kept in their personal possession.

"My bill would ensure that federal law enforcement officers are properly storing their guns to protect the public and themselves," DeSaulnier said. "This bill would put into place simple reforms to make certain our law enforcement uses best practices that can save lives."

The legislation would put the onus on the officer to store their service weapon by using smart guns and smart locks, trigger locks, safes, gunlock boxes or other means approved by the agency, which would decide the discipline for violations.

The guns could not be kept in personal or patrol vehicles except for temporary storage when in court, when other options aren't available, or if authorized by the agency. If an officer's gun is stolen or lost, the incident would need to be reported to the FBI, U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and relevant state and local agencies.

HR 6024 was referred to the House Armed Services Committee.

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16 people like this
Posted by PleasantonTaxpayer
a resident of Highland Oaks
on Sep 28, 2016 at 11:34 pm

This Congressman, according to his statement, is trying to "close the glaring gap in current policies regarding gun safety ..." Ohhhhh, so THIS was the cause of Kate Steinle's death. It had nothing to do with SF's sanctuary city policies that allow violent, felon illegal aliens to freely walk the streets. Desaulnier and our other local congressman, Eric Swalwell, refuse to even acknowledge, let alone address, the real problem.

15 people like this
Posted by Michael Austin
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Sep 29, 2016 at 7:31 am

Michael Austin is a registered user.

If we had a congressmen (SWALWELL) representing us, he would have inserted Kate's Law into the unanimous vote in congress on Wednesday to allow 911 victims to bring law suits against Saudi Arabia.

22 people like this
Posted by AR15
a resident of Stoneridge
on Sep 29, 2016 at 9:18 am

AR15 is a registered user.

I agree completely with Pleasanton taxpayer and Michael Austin. Sanctuary cities are a disgrace, as are those who enable them. Swalwell should be ashamed of himself. He is the complete liberal Democrat puppet.

8 people like this
Posted by mooseturd
a resident of Pleasanton Valley
on Sep 29, 2016 at 9:30 am

mooseturd is a registered user.

I certainly hope that Swalwell is ashamed of himself. He has ample reason. He gives Democrats a bad name.

5 people like this
Posted by Sam
a resident of Oak Hill
on Sep 29, 2016 at 10:11 am

I think that the fact that the gun used in Steinle's death was stolen from the car of a careless government employee is not given enough attention. This is not the first time I've read a story of a gun being stolen from a government employee who was either too careless or too incompetent to properly secure their firearm. Not bashing government employees in general. Just bashing those who are given the responsibility for wielding a firearm and fail to live up to their responsibilities. I hope that this Federal ranger whose gun was stolen from his car is feeling very badly about his role in the sequence of events that led to Steinle's death. I hope that Steinle's death haunts him.

Here's an example of another officer who did not properly secure her gun. Yet another gun in possession of the bad guys:

"UC Berkeley police chief had only herself to blame for stolen gun, experts say"

"Determined to set the record straight, UC Berkeley Police Chief Margo Bennett sent a mass internal e-mail this week detailing what happened when several valuables, including her department gun, were recently stolen from her vehicle at the Point Isabel Regional Shoreline in Richmond."

"She admits, 'in retrospect,' that perhaps she shouldn't have stored her black computer bag, containing her department gun, badge, laptop and iPad, in the darkly-tinted 'back cargo area' of her Ford Escape."

""I feel terrible about the loss of department equipment and I am heartsick over the loss of irreplaceable personal items," she wrote."

"Police practice experts told the Chronicle that Bennett has only herself to blame for leaving the gun unsecured in the SUV."

"The theft is part of a troubling trend of car burglars stealing Bay Area law enforcement guns, sparking discussion if these officials are doing enough to protect their weapons."

Web Link

6 people like this
Posted by Scott Walsh
a resident of Pleasanton Valley
on Sep 29, 2016 at 10:25 am

Government Official whose gun was stolen should be fired. Agency should change policies. Pelosi controls Swalwell. Pelosi from small SF District. He won't cross her. He should be ashamed that he has not done more. He should stop his video games, his pandering, his coming home every weekend on tax payer expense and stay in Washington doing the people's work. No federal funding for Sanctuary Cities!

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