California moves to criminalize cops leaving guns unsecured in cars

California moves to criminalize cops leaving guns unsecured in cars

California State Sen. Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo, wants peace officers in the state to start locking up guns left in their vehicles to benefit public safety. (Photo: sd13.senate.ca.gov)

Following two high-profile murders with guns stolen from law enforcement vehicles, a state lawmaker is seeking to have them secured under threat of a $1,000 fine.

The legislation, filed Tuesday, would remove current protections under state law that allows peace officers– including federal law enforcement officers, officers from other states in California on business and retired peace officers who are authorized to carry firearms– from the same regulations that require guns to be secured in vehicles when not in use.

“Officers’ guns must be securely stored if they are left in vehicles,” said state Sen. Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo, sponsor of the legislation, in a statement. “This is a matter of basic public safety and common sense. My bill would ensure that the requirements for safe gun storage in vehicles are the same for everyone in California — law enforcement officers and civilians.”

Hill’s proposal, SB 869, would mandate that any person leaving a handgun in a vehicle must first secure it by either locking the firearm in the trunk or in a container placed out of view.

It would create a new crime with a punishment that would include fines of up to $1,000.

Hill’s legislation comes on the heels of two high-profile murders in California, both committed with guns stolen from the vehicles of federal agents.

The fatal shooting of Kathryn Steinle on San Francisco’s Pier 14 last July by suspect Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez, a Mexican national with at least five deportations under his belt, allegedly occurred with a Sig Sauer handgun stolen from the vehicle of a U.S. Bureau of Land Management ranger that was left loaded and unsecured on the seat.

Steinle’s family are currently perusing claims for damages from the BLM, San Francisco Sheriff’s Department and U.S. Department of Homeland Security, claiming the ranger’s weapon was left loaded and in plain view in his car.

This was compounded with the news last November that the pistol used in the fatal shooting of an artist in the San Francisco area was stolen from an Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent. That gun, a 9mm Glock 26, was stolen from the car of a federal agent in the area just two weeks before the shooting.

Hill’s measure is not the only proposal of its kind in the state.

Supervisor David Campos last October introduced a proposal to prohibit San Francisco city peace officers from leaving an issued firearm in a personal vehicle.