Lorena Gonzalez Reintroduces Bill to Create Clear Standards for Use of Projectile Weapons by Police

Monday, December 7, 2020

SACRAMENTO – (Monday, Dec. 7, 2020) – Today, California State Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego) reintroduced legislation she championed last session to create clear statewide standards on law enforcement officers’ use of projectile weapons and chemical agents during protests and other large crowd gatherings.

“We need to establish a statewide standard for the use of projectile weapons and chemical agents to ensure peaceful protesters and journalists can exercise their First Amendment rights without risking serious injury,” Assemblywoman Gonzalez said.

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), chemical agents (pepper balls or spray) and tear gas 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.

Beginning in 2023, 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. A public summary of those reports must be published the following year.

For questions on AB 48 or to schedule an interview with Assemblywoman Gonzalez, contact Sami Gallegos: samantha.gallegos@asm.ca.gov