A newly released report has confirmed many of the findings of Hired Guns, a Reveal/CNN investigation that uncovered lax oversight and regulation of the armed security guard industry.

The report will be the topic of a hearing Wednesday in the state’s Capitol. Lawmakers plan to question the California Bureau of Security and Investigative Services about its oversight and enforcement practices, including some of the issues highlighted in Reveal’s investigation.

Among the recommendations made by the Joint Oversight committees:

  • The bureau should begin collecting and providing more information on security guard shootings, including the bureau’s investigation of security guard shootings.
  • The bureau should investigate the possibility of requiring mental health examinations for armed guard applicants.
  • The bureau should evaluate whether current firearm training requirements are sufficient.

The report and hearing comes after Reveal found that regulators have failed to thoroughly investigate security guard shootings in the state. Reveal also found that California is among many states that do not require mental health evaluations for armed guards, and the state requires just six hours of range time before a guard can be posted on the job with a gun.

The report shed some light on other issues facing the state of California, including citations that have not kept pace with our financial times. Currently, guards can only be fined $25 if they’re caught working without firearms qualification cards, a penalty that was set more than 20 years ago.

Check back Wednesday for Reveal’s coverage of the hearing. You also can read the report in its entirety here.

This story was edited by Amy Pyle and copy edited by Sheela Kamath. 

Shoshana Walter can be reached at swalter@revealnews.org. Follow her on Twitter: @shoeshine.

Shoshana Walter

Shoshana Walter is a reporter for Reveal, covering criminal justice. She and reporter Amy Julia Harris exposed how courts across the country are sending defendants to rehabs that are little more than lucrative work camps for private industry. Their work was a finalist for the 2018 Pulitzer Prize in national reporting. It also won the Knight Award for Public Service, a Sigma Delta Chi Award for investigative reporting, and an Edward R. Murrow Award, and was a finalist for the Selden Ring, IRE and Livingston Awards. It led to numerous government investigations, two criminal probes and five federal class-action lawsuits alleging slavery, labor violations and fraud.

Walter's investigation on America's armed security guard industry revealed how armed guard licenses have been handed out to people with histories of violence, even people barred by courts from owning guns. Walter and reporter Ryan Gabrielson won the 2015 Livingston Award for Young Journalists for national reporting based on the series, which prompted new laws and an overhaul of California’s regulatory system. For her 2016 investigation about the plight of "trimmigrants," marijuana workers in California's Emerald Triangle, Walter embedded herself in illegal mountain grows and farms. There, she encountered an epidemic of sex abuse and human trafficking in the industry – and a criminal justice system focused more on the illegal drugs. The story prompted legislation, a criminal investigation and grass-roots efforts by the community, including the founding of a worker hotline and safe house.

Walter began her career as a police reporter for The Ledger in Lakeland, Florida, and previously covered violent crime and the politics of policing in Oakland, California, for The Bay Citizen. Her narrative nonfiction as a local reporter garnered a national Sigma Delta Chi Award and a Gold Medal for Public Service from the Florida Society of News Editors. A graduate of Mount Holyoke College, she has been a Dart Center Ochberg fellow for journalism and trauma at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and a John Jay/Harry Frank Guggenheim fellow in criminal justice journalism. She is based in Reveal's Emeryville, California, office.