SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — In the wake of the 2019 deadly shooting at the Poway synagogue in San Diego County, a new bill proposed Monday would require stricter reviews of hunting licenses by the California Department of Justice.
In April 2019, 19-year-old John Timothy Earnest allegedly opened fire at the Chabad of Poway Synagogue, using an AR-15 style rifle.
Under state law, Earnest was not supposed to be able to buy that gun.
That’s why state Sen. Anthony Portantino, D-Los Angeles, told FOX40 his new bill, Senate Bill 419, is needed.
“The gunman was able to get a rifle with not a valid hunting license. And under California law, he had to have a valid hunting license,” explained Portantino.
If passed into law, the bill would require both the seller and the California Department of Justice to check the legitimacy of a buyer’s hunting license before that person can get the gun.
“The whole point is to distinguish between folks who are not going to cause carnage with a weapon and those who are,” said Portantino.
Sam Paredes is the executive director of Gun Owners of California, a Folsom-based, pro-gun political action committee. He told FOX40 he feels the bill would have done little to stop Earnest.
“We’re really sad that Sen. Portantino chose to do this,” said Paredes. “If this person knew what the law was, he was obviously smart enough to get a hunting license. He could have waited two more months and conducted the same thing and complied with all the laws. His hunting license would have been valid.”
To get a hunting license in California, applicants must complete a two-day training course.
Under the bill, the Justice Department would more than likely have to coordinate with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, which issues hunting licenses.
Paredes said he believes that would significantly slow the process and hurt gun stores, many of which are small businesses.
“Anything that delays the process affects business,” said Paredes.
But Portantino counters that those checks could happen during the 10-day waiting period.
“I have no sympathy for those folks who think this is an extra step because you know what, this extra step may save a life,” said Portantino.
Portantino told FOX40 he hopes to pass the bill by the end of August and have the law take effect Jan.1.