We have an opportunity in California to reduce violent crime and protect consumers.

Senate Bill 962, introduced by Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, would require cellphone companies to install a kill switch that would make phones useless to criminals when stolen. To most of us, this is common-sense legislation.

It would take away the financial incentive for the lion's share of street robberies.

So it's truly a shame that lobbyists for the wireless phone industry convinced 17 state senators last week to kill the bill.

The Legislature should be doing everything it can to protect consumers from becoming victims of violent crime. By killing the bill, these lobbyists and legislators are complicit in these crimes.

In Oakland, for example, an estimated 75 percent of all street robberies include a cellphone -- many of these victims are robbed at gunpoint. And if that's not reason enough, a recent study showed that a kill switch would save American consumers an estimated $2.5 billion each year.

Like the criminals who have a financial motive to rob people of their costly electronics, wireless phone companies and manufacturers also profit when their customers have to buy a new one.

But for phone companies, there are better ways to make money.

Since they have the ability to install kill switches, wireless phone companies and manufacturers have a moral duty to prevent their customers from becoming victims of this type of theft.


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With this legislation, the wireless phone industry has that opportunity. And for lawmakers, leadership means standing up to special interests and doing the right thing.

The good news is that we understand there's an effort in Sacramento to revive the bill. As Oakland's councilmember-at-large and its city attorney, respectively, we ask that the Legislature pass this important bill.

Rebecca Kaplan serves as Oakland City Council president pro tempore. Barbara J. Parker serves as city attorney for the city of Oakland.