* January 1, 2018 – Note the update from the BSIS at the bottom of the article.

Do you have armed guards at a site in California? Do you own or manage a security company that offers armed guard services in that state?

If you do, then you are affected by a new California law for the security industry.

A CNN investigation into the lack of oversight of private armed security guards has contributed to the reforms outlined in Senate Bill No. 1196, which became law on September 29, 2016. According to California State Senator Jerry Hill, who sponsored the bill, the law aims to “make sure that armed security guards are qualified for their jobs, and that California regulators step up their policing of this industry.”

Weak oversight is not uncommon

The state with the largest number of armed guards in the country is not alone in its weak oversight of armed guards. The CNN series “Hired Guns” found that numerous states have weak laws, lax oversight, and little accountability for armed guards. Of these states, 15 have no requirements for firearms training among licensed security guards.According to Senator Hill, California now has “better training standards for prospective security guards and requirements to ensure that shootings and incidents of suspected excessive force are investigated, that gun permits are revoked when warranted, and that oversight of companies is improved.”

Your opportunity to lead

Proponents of better laws, including organizations like NASCO, support better background checks and training of guards. Armed security has its place, of course, when based on proper risk assessments and implementation. As an operator, this new law offers you yet another opportunity to step up and lead by adopting sound processes, as you would for any high-risk activity or other specific training requirement. Has your firm automated security workforce management with advanced technology such as TrackTik? If so, it is easy to adopt best practices that cover requirements for guard screening, training, evaluation, and incident escalation. Implementing these practices will help your firm comply with the law as well as create documentation and audit trails.


The law requires state officials to take action against an armed guard who is mentally unstable, violent, or a threat to public safety. New security guards also need to pass a mental health exam in order to carry a gun. Given these legal requirements, insert a check and balance for all officers that are armed. TrackTik’s Back Office Management Suite allows you to restrict certain posts and sites to officers who meet requirements and hold active permits. When an employee’s record needs to be updated to meet your screening requirements, you can receive alerts.


To manage any training and certification requirements, use the Skills and Attributes control page from the TrackTik portal, under the employee’s profile. In this case, include  firearms certifications as well as specialized training. This inclusion permits you to proactively address expiring certifications and permits before they affect your ability to cover scheduled shifts.For every site where you provide armed security personnel, update the post orders to reflect any special instructions regarding firearms, including any new reporting requirements. Once post orders are updated, you can audit who has read them and at what site by choosing the auditing and reports function.


Do note that the California law requires security guards to “report to his or her employer, within 24 hours of the incident, the circumstances surrounding the discharge of any firearm in which he or she is involved while acting within the course and scope of his or her employment.”So it is important to automate report escalations with the appropriate flags. To do so, use features in TrackTik’s incident reporting like incident types, priority levels, and real-time notification. The latter allows you to react appropriately within the prescribed 24-hour period.

Next steps for a better business

Automation clearly makes it easier to be proactive and reduce risk through checks and balances. As a result, you can focus on delivering the best service possible to your clients while enjoying the peace of mind that comes from knowing that your operation is adhering to, or even exceeding, what the law requires. If you are not using TrackTik, get a free demo of our workforce management platform. You will see how we can help you build a better security business while supporting your desire to stay ahead of competitors and follow industry best practices. Contact us at [email protected].

For more details on how the California law affects your security business, download this useful pre-assignment checklist for guns.