Today, Assembly Bill 48 by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego) to set clear, minimum statewide standards on law enforcement’s use of rubber bullets and tear gas for crowd control was sent to the Governor’s desk.
“During the nationwide protests in 2020, many reports showed peaceful protesters and bystanders being seriously injured, even permanently maimed, by dangerous projectiles,” Assemblywoman Gonzalez (D-San Diego) said. “This bill will protect Californians’ right to safely protest by establishing statewide standards that help minimize the overuse of these dangerous weapons, while directly law enforcement on how and when they can deploy projectiles in truly life-threatening situations.”
Kinetic projectiles like rubber bullets, beanbags, and foam rounds have caused serious bodily harm, including broken jaws, blindness, traumatic brain injury, and ruptured testicles. Despite being considered “less lethal” weapons, California has no minimum standards on their usage.
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. The bill prohibits aiming these weapons at the head, neck or other vital organs.
AB 48 also creates necessary disclosure requirements on how often and when these weapons are deployed by requiring data collection on the use of, and any resulting injuries from, these “less lethal” weapons by law enforcement within 60 days of each incident. By specifically requiring a justification for why the use was necessary and why deescalation tactics failed,
AB 48 will help curb their excessive use by law enforcement.
Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez represents California’s 80th Assembly District, located in southern San Diego County, including the cities of San Diego, Chula Vista, and National City. She serves as Chair of the Assembly Committee on Appropriations and Chair of the Assembly Select Committee on Latina Inequities. For more information on Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, visit http://asm.ca.gov/gonzalez