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Wilson Signs Gun Laws, Vetoes Voter Legislation

Governor: He OKs bills that stiffen controls on firearms and toughen sentences for killers of police officers.

September 25, 1997| From Associated Press

SACRAMENTO — Bills to increase penalties for crimes against police and to stiffen California's gun-control laws were signed Wednesday by Gov. Pete Wilson.

But Wilson vetoed legislation designed to register more high school and community college students to vote and to create the position of gang prevention director in the attorney general's office.

The Republican governor signed into law a bill by Sen. Quentin Kopp (I-San Francisco) that requires a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole for those convicted of the second-degree murder of a law enforcement officer during the performance of the officer's duties.

"This bill sends a strong and unmistakable message that we place enormous value on the lives of the men and women who protect the public's safety and that the unlawful killing of a police officer will not be tolerated," Wilson said in a statement.

First-degree murder of a law enforcement officer can already result in the death penalty or life in prison without parole.

Wilson also signed:

* A bill by Sen. Ruben S. Ayala (D-Chino) that authorizes up to three years in prison for taking an officer's firearm.

* Legislation by Assemblyman Kevin Shelley (D-San Francisco) to require handgun owners who move to California to register the firearms with the Department of Justice within 60 days.

* A measure by Assemblyman Jack Scott (D-Altadena) that closes a loophole in current law allowing a passenger in a motor vehicle to illegally carry a concealed firearm without the threat of prosecution.

* A bill by Assemblyman Fred Keeley (D-Boulder Creek) that makes gun owners subject to prosecution if they keep a loaded firearm on their premises and a child age 16 or under gets the gun and wounds or kills someone with it.

* Legislation by Assemblywoman Dion Aroner (D-Berkeley) that makes it a crime to sell handgun ammunition to someone under the age of 21.

Wilson vetoed a bill by Sen. Betty Karnette (D-Long Beach) that would have required public schools to distribute voter registration materials to high school seniors and require community colleges to include the materials with class registration forms.

"This bill is unnecessary," Wilson said. "Current law already requires high school campuses to be open to deputy registrars of voters for a minimum of four weeks each year to register students and school personnel.

"The governing boards of public colleges and universities are not prohibited under existing law from providing voter registration forms to students in their registration materials."

Wilson also vetoed a bill by Sen. Diane Watson (D-Los Angeles) that would have created the position of gang prevention director in the attorney general's office, contingent on the availability of funding for the post.

The director would have coordinated statewide gang prevention efforts, monitored gang activity and reported each year to the Legislature and governor on the state of gang activity and prevention efforts.

"The creation of an unfunded position to report on the obvious will do little to offset the unwillingness of the Legislature to take forceful action against gang murderers and home invaders," Wilson said in a veto message.

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