California’s Considering A Law To Restrict Police Firearm Use

by Thea Glassman
Image via Justin Sullivan/Getty

California lawmakers propose new restrictions on police officers’ right to shoot

After a police officer shot an unarmed black man to death in Sacramento, some California lawmakers are stepping up and pushing for action. There’s a new proposed law that could potentially change the way that officers are allowed to shoot in the state — and, if passed, it could be fairly groundbreaking.

Sacramento Assemblyman Kevin McCarty and Assemblywoman Shirley Weber have partnered together to introduce legislation that revises the language of California’s use of force laws. Instead of police officers being allowed to shoot “when reasonable,” firing should only happen “when necessary.”

During a press conference introducing the bill, McCarty said, per Huffington Post, that these changes would be made to an “over-100-year-old law that too often justifies deadly force incidents.” The legislation, Assemblyman Christopher Holden added, could reshape when and how officers shoot.

“We should no longer be the target practice of a ‘shoot first, ask questions later’ police force,” he said.

This seems like a completely necessary step after the tragic shooting of Stephon Clark – and the 277 other people who have been killed by the police in 2018. The details of Clark’s death alone should be enough to convince lawmakers that some sort of change needs to happen.

A bit of background: officers were dispatched onto the scene when they received a call that a young man was breaking car windows. They pursued the 22-year-old, who hopped the fence into his grandmother’s backyard. Police officers then shot him eight times, because they claimed that he had “turned and advanced toward [them] while holding an object.” All that was found on his body was an iPhone. His death has since spawned protests after an autopsy revealed he was shot in the back seven times.

Maybe if there was a different standard that officers had to live by tragedies like this could hopefully be avoided. If firing off multiple shots wouldn’t be the immediate solution when it seems to turn out, over and over again, that these victims aren’t actually dangerous it could mean less people dying for no reason.

“Law enforcement is charged with protecting and serving all communities,” Weber said during the press conference. “At times the use of deadly force is used at a terrible cost to all involved. We need to ensure our state policies govern the use of deadly force stresses the sanctity of human life and is only used when necessary.”