Home California Bill to Create Clear Standards for Police Use of Projectile Weapons Passes First Legislative Committee

Bill to Create Clear Standards for Police Use of Projectile Weapons Passes First Legislative Committee

by ECT

SACRAMENTO – Today, the Assembly Public Safety Committee passed on a 6 to 2 vote Assembly Bill 48 by California State Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego) to create clear, minimum statewide standards on law enforcement officers’ use of projectile weapons and chemical agents during protests and other large crowd gatherings.

“In the last year, we’ve seen countless protestors and journalists seriously injured by rubber bullets and chemical agents. There’s no excuse for the use of such dangerous weapons against peaceful demonstrators who are simply exercising their First Amendment rights and pose no threat to others,” Assemblywoman Gonzalez said. “AB 48 creates clear standards to regulate the use of these weapons and protect an individual’s right to safely protest without risking serious life-threatening injuries.”

In recent demonstrations where Californians demanded justice for Black lives, law enforcement agencies have deployed so-called “less lethal” weapons like kinetic projectiles (rubber bullets, beanbags, and foam rounds), and chemical agents (tear gas, pepper balls, and OC spray) to control crowds. Projectiles weapons used by officers have caused serious bodily harm, including broken jaws, blindness, traumatic brain injury, and ruptured testicles.

Assembly Bill 48 would prohibit any law enforcement agency from using kinetic projectiles, chemical agents and tear gas to disperse any peaceful assembly, protest, or demonstration.

AB 48 requires officers to be trained on the safe use of kinetic projectiles and chemical agents for situations where any person’s life is threatened or they are at risk of serious injury. In these instances, officers would be required to expend other de-escalation techniques before using projectile weapons and they must provide prompt medical assistance to any person injured. AB 48 prohibits aiming these weapons at the head, neck or other vital organs.

To create transparency around the use of these weapons, agencies would be required to report any use of kinetic projectiles and chemical agents that resulted in injury to the Department of Justice in their monthly use of force reports beginning in 2023. An annual summary of those reports must be published the following year.

Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez represents California’s 80th Assembly District, located in southern San Diego County, including the cities of San Diego, Chula Vista, and National City. She serves as Chair of the Assembly Committee on Appropriations and Chair of the Assembly Select Committee on Latina Inequities.

For more information on Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, visit http://asm.ca.gov/gonzalez

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Johnny Law Mar 23, 2021 - 9:05 pm

Seriously!?!? Yet another attempt to tie the hands of LE trying to do their job. If the protesters and journalists don’t want to get hit with rubber bullets and chemical agents maybe they should be involved in violent protests.

LoveableCurmudgeon Mar 24, 2021 - 3:59 am

Or, Johnny, perhaps law enforcement, and you, should recognize that pesky 1st Amendment right to protest. Yes, some protestors go nuts and need to be dealt with, but most are using their Constitutional right to protest grievances. Damn that Bill of Rights!

Robert C. Mar 24, 2021 - 7:50 am

The unspoken and unrealistic assumption here is that all protests are nonviolent. Unfortunately, what seems “clear” to clueless assembly members sitting in a conference room is much less clear in the real world. These politicians should spend some time “on the lines” with police officers who actually have to deal with reality. Just how violent does a “nonviolent” protest have to be before their “clear standards” will classify it as violence? We’ve all seen it over and over: protests that start “nonviolently” and end up with assault and looting.

Jg Mar 24, 2021 - 10:59 am

On another note, when are we going to pull out the water canons on fire trucks to disperse the bad people? They do it all the time in other countries. It’s affective and will disperse an unruly crowd in minutes. Also, at the same time they can put out fires that the peaceful protestors set.

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