Keep in touch with what’s happening in California about assisted living and RCFE legislation and related items.
SB 172 "Keep Our Seniors Safe" Firearms Safe Storage in RCFEs
Most of the public and many residents of assisted living facilities (also called residential care facilities for the elderly, or RCFEs) and their families will be surprised to learn that California's regulations allow an RCFE owner to accept, retain and store firearms, ammunition and other dangerous weapons (Title 22, Section 87309).
What the regulations don't include are uniform requirements for safe and secure storage of these weapons, nor a public disclosure by the facility to residents and third-parties that firearms are or are not retained in the facility. CARR is proud to have partnered with California State Senator Anthony Portantino (D - SD 25) to draft SB 172 - Firearms consisting of two parts: Part I creates the Keep Our Seniors Safe Act, and Part II which expands Child Access Prevention laws. SB 172 was heard by the Senate Committee on Public Safety on 2 April, 2019. It moved out of committee on a 6-0 vote and is now headed for the Senate Appropriations committee. CARR's press release announcing this partnership is linked here.
Dr. Sheryl Zimmerman, a nationally recognized researcher of the long-term care needs of dementia residents, asserts that 7 out of 10 residents in assisted living have some form of dementia (2014). Memory loss is becoming the primary reason families seek an assisted living placement for a family member. Alzheimer's organizations, mental health advocates and healthcare professionals throughout the United States are acutely aware of the dangers posed by unsecured or inadequately secured firearms in proximity to seniors with dementia ("Firearms and Dementia: Clinical Considerations." Betz, et al. Annals of Internal Medicine, July 3, 2018). Joleen Sussman, psychologist, and dementia specialist, in a November 2018 interview with NPR, calls it a "potentially deadly mix."
The Department of Social Services, Community Care Licensing Division (CDSS/CCLD) does not collect facility firearms data and is therefore unable to disclose to families and the public the number of RCFEs statewide that retain firearms, or the number of firearms in them. The state cannot assure anyone that any firearms in an RCFE are securely stored. Without individual facility information, the state is unable to hold facilities accountable for weapons storage.
Watch this space for CARR's continued advocacy to assure SB 172 becomes law during the 2019-2020 legislative session.