Skip to content

September 30, 2002

For More Information, Contact:
Kristina Loquist or Karen Brunton at (650) 688-6384


SACRAMENTO — Throughout the State of California, tens of thousands of dangerous weapons, including machine guns, grenades, cannons, missiles, and rockets, are unaccounted for.  No one knows whether these weapons are in the hands of their lawful owners or have made their way into the hands of would-be criminals or terrorists.  To remedy that situation Assemblyman Joe Simitian (D- Palo Alto) authored Assembly Bill 2580.  The bill has now been signed by the Governor.

“Now more than ever,” said Assemblyman Joe Simitian, “public safety is a top priority. AB 2580 requires the State Attorney General to take common sense steps to ensure the public is not at risk from the literally thousands of dangerous weapons for which permits have been issued.”

Specifically, AB 2580 requires the Department of Justice to perform annual inspections of those who hold dangerous weapons permits to ensure continued ownership, security, safe storage, and overall compliance with permit conditions.  Current law does not authorize the Department of Justice to review these permits after they have been issued.  “The result,” said Simitian, “is that no one knows if these weapons are safe and secure or have fallen into the wrong hands as a result of a theft or illegal sale. In the wrong hands, these weapons pose a tremendous threat.”

By providing for routine annual checks, AB 2580 allows for better oversight of dangerous weapons and ensures that the permit conditions remain valid.  “Weapons like rockets, mortars, heavy artillery, machine guns, and cannons are potential threats to public safety if not kept secure and stored properly,” according to Attorney General Bill Lockyer.  “Assemblyman Simitian’s bill will allow my office to perform routine state inspections to better ensure the proper maintenance of these high-powered weapons.”

The Attorney General’s Office has issued approximately 900 permits to about 300 individuals who possess more than 20,000 firearms and other dangerous weapons.  Many of the permits are held by motion picture studios where they use the dangerous weapons as props in movies and television shows.

The Attorney General’s Office has permits on file dating back to 1967, and without periodic updates, it is impossible to know something as simple as whether a permittee is still in physical possession of the weapons for which the permit was issued. 

“Given the increased sensitivity to public safety in the wake of September 11th, I think we all benefit if the Attorney General can account for the whereabouts of the more than 20,000 dangerous weapons and explosive devices authorized over the past 35 years,” observed Simitian.