SACRAMENTO – (Tuesday, Mar. 23, 2021) – Today, the Assembly Public Safety Committee passed on a 6 to 2 vote Assembly Bill 48 by California State Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego) to create clear, minimum statewide standards on law enforcement officers’ use of projectile weapons and chemical agents during protests and other large crowd gatherings.
"In the last year, we've seen countless protestors and journalists seriously injured by rubber bullets and chemical agents. There's no excuse for the use of such dangerous weapons against peaceful demonstrators who are simply exercising their First Amendment rights and pose no threat to others," Assemblywoman Gonzalez said. "AB 48 creates clear standards to regulate the use of these weapons and protect an individual's right to safely protest without risking serious life-threatening injuries."
In recent demonstrations where Californians demanded justice for Black lives, law enforcement agencies have deployed so-called “less lethal” weapons like kinetic projectiles (rubber bullets, beanbags, and foam rounds), and chemical agents (tear gas, pepper balls, and OC spray) to control crowds. Projectiles weapons used by officers have caused serious bodily harm, including broken jaws, blindness, traumatic brain injury, and ruptured testicles.
Assembly Bill 48 would prohibit any law enforcement agency from using kinetic projectiles, chemical agents and tear gas to disperse any peaceful assembly, protest, or demonstration.
AB 48 requires officers to be trained on the safe use of kinetic projectiles and chemical agents for situations where any person’s life is threatened or they are at risk of serious injury. In these instances, officers would be required to expend other de-escalation techniques before using projectile weapons and they must provide prompt medical assistance to any person injured. AB 48 prohibits aiming these weapons at the head, neck or other vital organs.
To create transparency around the use of these weapons, agencies would be required to report any use of kinetic projectiles and chemical agents that resulted in injury to the Department of Justice in their monthly use of force reports beginning in 2023. An annual summary of those reports must be published the following year.
For questions on AB 48 or to schedule an interview with Assemblywoman Gonzalez, contact Shubhangi Domokos: firstname.lastname@example.org