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California Lawmakers Aim To Strengthen Gun Ban In Schools

SACRAMENTO (AP) — California lawmakers have passed a bill to revoke superintendents' ability to let people carry guns in a school zone.

The California Assembly passed AB424 43-23 Monday, sending the measure to the state Senate.

The Legislature initially let superintendents give people permission to carry guns on campus to ensure domestic violence survivors could protect themselves, Assemblyman Kevin McCarty said.

But the Sacramento Democrat says the provision has been "exploited" by school districts to allow cafeteria aids, teachers and yard duty assistants to carry firearms in schools.

"This was not the intent of the bill passed a few years ago," said McCarty, who authored AB424. "Research shows allowing more guns in schools makes them less safe."

About five California school districts have issued permits for civilians to carry guns in school zones, including the Central Valley districts Folsom Cordova Unified, Kingsburg Joint Union, Anderson Union and Kern.

Opponents say the bill would reverse a limited exemption that makes schools safer. Assemblywoman Catharine Baker, a Republican from the San Francisco Bay Area, said she supported the intent of the bill but worried it would make schools a place where abusers would know domestic violence survivors would not have guns to defend themselves.

Republican Assemblywoman Melissa Melendez voted against the measure, which she said is "making a problem where there isn't one."

"Those who have been deemed responsible enough to have a (concealed-carry weapon) ought to be able to have one on school grounds if their school district allows it," said Melendez, who represents a district near Los Angeles. "It is not our responsibility to make that decision for them."

The vote on the bill comes about two months after a teacher and an 8-year-old student were shot by the teacher's estranged husband at an elementary school in San Bernardino, California.

Supporters and opponents of the bill mentioned other past school shootings in California as justification for their votes.

(© Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed.)

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