(Sacramento, CA) – Shortly after taking the oath of office Monday, Assemblymember Marc Levine and a group of fellow Democrats introduced a bill to place a new tax on gun sales and use the money for violence-prevention programs.
Assembly Bill 18 was jointly authored by Assemblymembers Rob Bonta, D-Alameda, and Adrin Nazarian, D-North Hollywood. Assemblymembers Richard Bloom, D-Santa Monica, David Chiu, D-San Francisco, Mike Gipson, D-Carson, Monique Limon, D-Santa Barbara, Kevin McCarty, D-Sacramento, and Phil Ting, D-San Francisco, signed on as co-authors.
Monday was the first day to introduce bills for the 2019-2020 Legislative Session, which gets underway January 7.
The introduction of AB 18 comes less than a month after a dozen people were shot to death at the Borderline Bar and Grill in Thousand Oaks, and caps a year in which there were nearly as many mass shootings as there were days on the calendar.
With almost a month remaining in the year, the non-profit Gun Violence Archive reported that 2018 had seen 325 mass shootings nationwide. Gun violence overall claimed more than 13,000 lives. The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation found that from 2014 to 2016 gun homicides increased 18 percent.
“California needs to bolster violence prevention initiatives so that they are commensurate with our state’s tough gun laws and as effective as violence prevention programs of other states,” said Assemblymember Levine, D-Marin County, who is beginning his fourth two-year term in the Legislature.
Revenue from AB 18 would support the existing California Violence Intervention and Prevention Program (CalVIP), which last year awarded more than $8 million in grants to communities hit hard by gun violence.
CalVIP, which is overseen by the Board of State and Community Corrections, issues grants to cities and community-based organizations. Grant recipients in 2018 included Los Angeles, Oakland, Richmond, San Bernardino, Stockton, Compton, Vallejo, Pasadena, Salinas, Oxnard and Santa Rosa. More than a dozen community-based organizations serving at-risk youth also
received grants of up to $500,000.
This is not the first time Assemblymember Levine has taken on the gun industry. In 2016, he
authored AB 1135 that finally removed assault rifles like the AR-15 from store shelves by
closing the so-called bullet-button loophole, further tightening California’s nation-leading assault
His newly introduced bill has drawn early support. “The costs of gun violence are staggering,” said Mattie Scott, president of the California Chapters of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. “It takes a toll on our healthcare system, criminal justice system and every community throughout the state. That's why CA Brady was proud to support funding for locally-based gun violence prevention program through the updated CalVIP program, and the increased oversight and review process that makes these programs more effective. We thank Assemblymember Levine for his effort to keep this funding going in the years to come, while at the same time helping to reduce the gun violence.”
“Gun violence is a public health crisis that demands new and innovative ideas and increased support for neighborhoods reeling from tragedy,” said Ari Freilich, California legislative affairs director for the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. “California's CalVIP grant program is making critical investments in community-driven efforts to intervene and prevent violence before it occurs, but this program has received inadequate and unstable funding. We applaud Assemblyman Levine for exploring ways to create a new, dedicated funding stream for this lifesaving program and look forward to working with him on this important legislation this
California has long been a national leader in gun restrictions. It adopted its first assault weapons ban in 1989, a few months after a man with an AK-47 killed five children and wounded 30 others in a Stockton schoolyard. The state has added layers of regulation since then – on weapons and ammunition – but never without significant opposition of gun makers and their advocacy groups.
Assemblymember Marc Levine represents the 10th Assembly District, which includes Marin and Sonoma Counties