California Governor Gavin Newsom vetoed a hunting license verification bill. The proposed bill would require the State Justice Department to verify hunting licenses with Fish and Wildlife. They would have to verify licenses before approving firearms sales to people under 21.
The state’s legislative subsequently proposed the bill after the suspected Poway Synagogue shooter purchased a gun with an unchecked invalid hunting license. John Earnest, who was 19, used the weapon in the April 2019 attack. In the attack, Earnest allegedly killed one church member and injured three others.
The state’s age-minimum for the weapon was 21. But the age limit to own a valid, state-issued hunting license is 18. Currently, the Justice Department leaves it up to a gun shop’s discretion to determine if a license is valid.
Newsom said he creating the verification system would be a 30-month information technology project. He believes it could disrupt other firearm technology systems in development under other legislation as a result.
“I am concerned that adding an information technology project will impede DOJ’s ability to perform the work it has already been tasked,” Newsom said in the statement.
A state senator disagreed with the governor on the hunting license verification bill.
State Sen. Anthony Portantino disagreed with the governor on the veto. He plans to continue trying to pass the change either through the governor’s budget or a new bill. Under the proposed system, Earnest would have been unable to purchase the weapon, according to the senator.
“You can’t have a system that relies on the validity of a license not being checked,” he said. “To make sure that that license is actually valid. The whole goal is to keep guns out of the wrong hands. This shooter in Poway got a gun based on a faulty license.”
Portanino proposed the law that initially raised California’s purchase age to 21 but left hunting licenses registration at age 18. During the aftermath of the shooting, California legislation removed the hunting-license exemption for semi-automatic, center fire weapons. The exemption still exists for other guns.