California: Last allowance for campus carry threatened under new bill

Assemblymember Kevin McCarty, podium, has allied with gun control groups to further limit legal guns on California public school campuses. (Photo: Twitter)

Assembly Member Kevin McCarty, podium, has allied with gun control groups to further limit legal guns on California public school campuses. (Photo: Twitter)

A measure that would strip the limited ability for schools to make exceptions to their gun free zones could be up for a vote in the Assembly this week.

The proposal, AB 424, would remove the allowance for a school district superintendent to give permission to someone to have a firearm on campus. Supporters feel it is needed to close a loophole in state law in a follow-up to a general ban on campus carry passed by lawmakers in 2015.

“A safe learning environment is essential for our children to be successful in the classroom,” said Assembly Member Kevin McCarty (D), sponsor of the bill. “Classrooms are laboratories of learning. They provide opportunities to discover art, music, history and mathematics to prepare oneself for college or a career. That’s not possible if a school district allows armed civilians to roam California school campuses.”

McCarty’s legislation will end the allowance in California’s Gun Free School Zones law for school districts to authorize an individual with a concealed carry permit to access the campus. Since the overall ban on carrying by permit holders some schools, for example, the Kern High School District, have moved to allow carry by both teachers and non-employees who seek permission beforehand.

Exemptions would remain in place for current and retired law enforcement officers to carry if authorized by their former agency.

McCarty’s measure has the support of the Board of Education of the San Francisco Unified School District as well as gun control advocates.

“The gun lobby says that guns in schools will make our children safer,” argues Richard Martinez, whose son Christopher was fatally shot inside a deli near the University of California, Santa Barbara in Isla Vista. “But the reality is that guns in schools increase the risk of unintentional shootings, complicate law enforcement response in emergencies and make it more likely that conflicts will escalate and turn lethal.”

Second Amendment groups contend the move would strip away local authority to decide gun policy from campus officials while offering no increase in safety.

“It is obvious that AB 424 is not about making our schools safer, instead this is only about continuing the assault on the Second Amendment and law-abiding gun owners in the Golden State,” says an alert by the National Rifle Association’s lobbying arm.

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