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A gun-policy bill on which both parties agree

Apparently there’s at least one gun-policy bill in Sacramento on which both sides of the aisle can agree.

The state Senate Public Safety Committee today approved SB 644, by Sen. Anthony Cannella, R-Modesto, which would increase penalties for felons caught in possession of firearms.

It’s already illegal in California for convicted felons to possess firearms, but current law limits the punishment for that crime to three years or less; SB 644 would increase that sentence to as much as six years and would automatically count such a conviction as a new strike under the state’s “Three Strikes” law.

“I think we all can agree enforcing existing gun laws and giving them real teeth is good public policy,” Cannella said in a news release. “Under the current statute, a felon in possession of a gun does not constitute a serious or violent crime, whereas someone entering a private residence while no one is home is considered a serious offense. A felon in possession of a firearm is surely more of a danger to public safety than someone entering a private residence while no one is home.

“Getting these criminals off our streets is real gun control,” he said. “This is a common sense bill that makes a difference and keeps our families safer.”

Cannella spokesman Jeff Macedo said the committee passed the bill just a few minutes ago. A final vote isn’t available yet because committee vice chairman Joel Anderson, R-El Cajon, and member Kevin de Leon, D-Los Angeles, were absent and could still add their votes before the committee adjourns today, but there aren’t any “no” votes thus far.

SB 644 now goes to the state Senate Appropriations Committee. It’s supported by the National Rifle Association, the California Rifle and Pistol Association, and the Modesto and Salinas Police Departments.

UPDATE @ 5:06 P.M.: The committee’s final vote was 6-0; contrary to my earlier information, it was actually state Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, who was absent and didn’t cast a vote today.

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.

  • GonzoG

    Since no one will be prosecuted under this, no one is really prosecuted under any law in this state, it is a waste of time.