State Sen. Anthony Portantino, one of the state’s leading gun-control advocates, has added another law in that area to his portfolio.
Senate Bill 172 this week became the third gun-safety measure authored by Portantino that was signed into law by Gov. Gavin Newsom in 2019.
According to a release from Portantino’s office, SB172 enacts a slate of significant provisions related to firearms storage by broadening criminal-storage crimes, adding criminal-storage offenses to those offenses that can trigger a 10-year firearm ban, and creating an exemption to firearm loan requirements for the purposes of preventing suicide.
In addition, SB172 resolves the problem of unsafe gun storage in residential care facilities. As Portantino, a Democrat, pointed out in the past, the vast majority of accidental firearms deaths, suicides and acts of violence are associated to easy access to firearms.
A recent shooting in a Sacramento senior-care facility highlighted the need to enact sensible rules regarding the senior population and the facilities they enter after leaving their homes for retirement and care, Portantino said.
“Children are far too often put in jeopardy when they are in homes that practice unsafe gun storage and our growing senior population is generating gun safety issues as it transitions into group care,’’ the senator said.
“These situations have created an urgent situation where all aspects of residential storage need stronger and contemporary regulations. Both younger and older residents need to be protected from inadvertent gun violence, and I am very pleased that this needed and common-sense effort is now law.”
His release also went on to say, “Improper storage of firearms in the home are killing our youth and additionally pose serious risk to approximately 200,000 residents of California’s 7,300 assisted living facilities. Assisted living facilities are allowed by the state to accept and retain firearms, along with accepting many residents having mild to severe cognitive impairment due to Alzheimer’s or other related dementias.
“Characteristics of the cognitively impaired include paranoia, confusion and anger. Having unsecured firearms in proximity to dementia residents is a dangerous risk. With 70 percent of assisted living residents having some level of dementia, firearms pose significant risk for everyone in the assisted living setting, so this bill proactively prevents a tragedy.’’
Earlier this year, Portantino also saw Newsom sign SB61 to cap the sale of semi-automatic, semi-fire rifles to one a month and ban the sale of them to those under 21; and SB 376, which redefined the definition of “infrequent” in dealing with gun sales.
Portantino has also authored laws banning open carry in California as well as to raise the purchasing age on long guns to 21.
SB172 bill was supported by the County of Los Angeles, the Bay Area Student Activists, Consumer Advocates for RCFE Reform, Drain the NRA and Elder Law and Advocacy, his office said.
Meanwhile, Portantino’s SB600 also was signed into law this week — ensuring health-insurance coverage for cancer patients and others fighting disease who want the option to protect their fertility.
His office said that insurance policies and health-plans cover a wide variety of cancer treatments and follow-up procedures due to the effects of said treatments — but there often is confusion in the definition of fertility preservation, which leaves many patients without coverage due to the legal unclarity.
The lack of clarity in insurance-coverage regulation for these services has causeed patients to forego fertility preservation treatment — and as a result, many have had to sacrifice their chance of future parenthood, he said.
SB600 makes clear that these services are covered benefits so that patients can obtain fertility preservation immediately and focus on their treatment.
“Every day, I feel blessed and grateful for the opportunity to be a parent, but unfortunately for many, due to the vague and imprecise health code language, people are faced with the heartbreaking decision of curing their cancer and losing their fertility,’’ Portantino said.
“This bill will make it abundantly clear that patients will have the opportunity to preserve fertility options prior to chemo and other aggressive treatments.”