California Governor Jerry Brown approved legislation Oct. 10 that prohibits concealed weapons on school and university campuses throughout the state.
This new bill, SB 707, comes only days after deadly school shootings in Texas, Oregon and Arizona.
SB 707 closes a loophole in current legislation that allows anyone with a concealed-weapons permit to carry a firearm on designated school grounds. It applies statewide, unless the carrier of the firearm is retired law enforcement or if school officials permit it on campus.
Supporters of the bill say its purpose is to fight gun violence in educational centers, as well as provide a safer learning environment for students. It will become law on Jan. 1.
Sen. Lois Wolk (D-Davis) proposed the bill several months ago.
“We are close to sending the Governor a common sense bill that will close this loophole in our Gun Free Schools Act, helping our school officials control firearms on their campuses,” said Wolk in a prepared statements in September.
The Academic Senate of the California State University system unanimously voted to support SB 707.
While the bill has already been signed into law, many groups, such as the National Rifle Association, California Pistol and Rifle Asociation, and the Firearms Policy Coalition, opposed the legislation loudly and vaguely. They have called SB 707 “unconstitutional, dangerous, and completely unnecessary”. The NRA said that the bill “is a solution in search of a problem.”
Brandon Combs, the President of Firearms Policy Coalition, said “SB 707 will actually make California’s schools, students and teachers less safe by reducing the number of background-checked, trained and law-enforcement approved first responders who may otherwise be present, ready and able to defend against an evil or insane attacker”.
Despite the opposition, the Governor said in his signing statement that it is “a peace officer’s role as a law enforcement agent that provides a rational basis for distinguishing between a peace officer and a private citizen for purposes of possessing and using assault weapons. A retired officer is not authorized to engage in law enforcement activities.”
“California’s college campuses and K-12 schools should be sanctuaries for learning, free from the fear of gun violence,” said Peggy McCrum, president of the California Chapters of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. McCrum also said that SB 707 “will make schools safer and decrease students’ risk of being injured or killed.”
As for Sonoma State University, Police Chief Nate Johnson said that he supports SB 707, and that he “cannot tell who has a CCW permit and attends classes.”