2009 AB 870

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According to the author, "Violence in our schools has undoubtedly become all too common of an  
            occurrence.  Several instances of attacks with weapons in  
            recent years have put students, teachers, parents and school  
            campus staff on alert for the next tragic attack.  Every  
            school should be a safe learning environment where no one has  
            to worry about the threat of violence.  

         "AB 870 closes a loophole in current law regarding the  
            prohibitions on the possession of weapons on school campuses  
            by specifically adding razor blades and box cutters to the  
            list of prohibited weapons."

 According to the background information provided  
            by the author, current law identifies the list of weapons that  
            are prohibited from being in someone's possession on school  
            campuses, which includes a "razor with an unguarded blade."   
            Recent court decisions interpreting what constitutes a "razor  
            with an unguarded blade" have found that the possession of a  
            single razor blade or the possession of a box cutter is not  
            prohibited by this statute.

          The author states, "In one case (In Re Do Kyung K., (2001), 88  
            Cal. App. 4th 583, 590), the Court determined the phrase  
            'razor with an unguarded blade' to mean that an unguarded  
            blade is a component, rather than the entirety, of the razor.   
            Id. At 593.  Thus the Court concluded that the possession of a  
            single razor blade did not violate Penal Code Section  
            626.10(a) because it was guarded.  

          "In 2004 [In Re Michael R., (2004) 120 Cal. App. 4th 1203,  
            1205], the court revisited the definition of "razor with an  
            unguarded blade" when questioning whether the possession of a  
            box cutter on school grounds violated this statute.  In this  
            case, the box cutter's blade in question retracted into the  
            handle and did not lock into place.  The trial court sustained  
            the petition, explaining that all razors are capable of being  
            guarded in some fashion and it would defeat the purpose of the  
            statute to conclude that a box cutter did not qualify as a  
            prohibited weapon.  However, the Court of Appeal disagreed by  
            ruling that the box cutter qualified as a razor, as defined by  
            In Re Do Kyung K., but was not prohibited by Penal Code  
            Section 626.10(a) because it was guarded.  (Id. at 1206.)

 "Recognizing  
            the danger that razors and box cutters pose to students,  
            teachers and campus staff, the courts have suggested that the  
            Legislature amend Penal Code Section 626.10(a) to specifically  
            prohibit these items.  In In Re Do Kyung K., the court made a  
            point of stating, "We are gravely concerned about the  
            possession of razor blades on school grounds.  A razor blade  
            is obviously a dangerous object, which may present a  
            significant safety hazard to those on school grounds.   

            Therefore, we encourage the Legislature to take prompt action  
            to address this concern."  This sentiment was reiterated by  
            the court in In Re Michael R. 

 According to the  Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office  , "AB 870 would add box cutters and  
            razor blades to the list of prohibited weapons on the grounds  
            of K-12 schools.  Currently, Penal Code section 626.10(a) bans  
            possession of a 'razor with an unguarded blade.'  As noted in  
            one recent court opinion, this same phrase appears in five  
            other statutes but is not statutorily defined [In re Do Kyung  
            K. (2001) 88 Cal.App.4th 583, 590].  Faced with the question  
            of whether possession of a single razor blade on school  
            grounds violated Penal Code section 626.10(a), the court  
            construed the phrase 'razor with an unguarded blade' to mean  
            that an unguarded blade is a component, rather than the  
            entirety, of the razor  (Id. at 593).  Thus, the court  
            concluded that possession of a single razor blade did not  
            violate the statute (Id. at 594).  

          "In 2004, the court revisited the definition of 'razor with an  
            unguarded blade' when faced with the question of whether  
            possession of a box cutter on school grounds violated Penal  
            Code Section 626.10(a) [In re Michael R. (2004) 120 Cal.App.  
            4th 1203, 1205].  Michael R. had a box cutter with a  
            single-edged blade in his pocket.  The blade retracted into  
            the handle of the instrument but did not lock into place.  The  
            trial court sustained the petition, explaining that all razors  
            are capable of being guarded in some fashion and it would  
            defeat the purpose of the statute to say a box cutter didn't  
            qualify as a prohibited weapon.  The Court of Appeals,  
            however, disagreed.  It ruled that the box cutter did not  
            qualify as a razor, as defined by In re Do Kyung K. but was  
            not prohibited by Penal Code Section 626.10(a). 

          "Recognizing the danger that razors and box cutters pose to  
            students, teachers and campus staff, the courts have suggested  
            that the Legislature amend PC 626.10(a) top specifically  
            prohibits these items.  In In re Do Kyung K., the court made a  
            point of stating, 'We are gravely concerned about the  
            possession of razor blades on school grounds.  A razor blade  
            is obviously a dangerous object, which may present a  
            significant safety hazard to those on school grounds.   
            Therefore, we encourage the Legislature to take prompt action  
            to address this concern'.  This sentiment was reiterated by  
            the court in In re Michael R. 

          "The court in In re Michael R., stated, 'Reluctantly, we  
            conclude that a box cutter does not fall within the purview of  
            Penal Code Section 626.10(a) . . .  At least one appellate  
            court previously has expressed grave concern about the  
            possession of razor blades or other potentially dangerous  
            objects on school grounds that are not prohibited by the  
            statute and urged the Legislature to take immediate action (In  
            re Do Kyung K., supra at 594).  Yet, in the three-year period  
            since that opinion was published, the Legislature has not seen  
            fit to amend the statutory language to prohibit the possession  
            of razor blades, box cutters, or similar objects on school  
            grounds.'

          "When wielded as a weapon, a box cutter can inflict serious,  
            even life threatening injuries.  In the last six months, at  
            least two minors in the City of Norwalk's jurisdiction have  
            brought box cutters to school with the intent of using them as  
            weapons.  In February, Sheriff's deputies responded to a high  
            school when a student reported seeing another student with a  
            box cutter and hearing her state, 'If the make me mad, I'll  
            shank them in the neck and slice their throats.' The deputies  
            recovered the box cutter from within the lining of the minor's  
            purse.  Box cutters have been designated as prohibited weapons  
            in other jurisdictions.  For instance, a Florida statute  
            specifically prohibits possessing box cutters at school and  
            New York City bans the sale and possession in public to  
            persons younger than 21."