Crime & Justice

UPDATE: Feinstein: California should pass more gun legislation; Congress can't

In the wake of the shootings near Santa Barbara, U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein says the California legislature is better poised to pass new gun control laws.
In the wake of the shootings near Santa Barbara, U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein says the California legislature is better poised to pass new gun control laws.
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U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein, who has ben a strong proponent of gun control, won't propose any new measures of her own in the wake of the UC Santa Barbara shootings. Last month's violence left seven dead, including the gunman, and several others wounded. Instead, Feinstein says it's up to the state to take action.

Feinstein says she's "heartbroken" by the events in Isla Vista. But after her bill to renew an assault weapons ban failed in the Senate last year, she's not introducing any new gun legislation.

RELATED: Does California need a gun violence restraining order law?

Instead, she's asking state lawmakers to amend California law. Currently, Feinstein says, if police are sent to check on someone a family considers a threat to themselves or others, they can't investigate unless they are granted permission by the individual. "They cannot come in," she says, "they cannot make a search, they cannot determine whether there are weapons there, they cannot really have the kind of conversation that can show whether he's got all his marbles or not."

Feinstein has two recommendations:

— Empower law enforcement officers to request a warrant authorizing firearm removal when they identify a person who poses an immediate threat of harm to himself or to others, or who poses a risk of harm to himself or to others that is credible, but not immediate.

— Create a new civil restraining order process to allow family members and intimate partners to petition a court to authorize temporary removal of firearms and to temporarily prohibit firearm purchase and possession based on a credible risk of physical harm to self or others.

Feinstein says gun legislation is going nowhere in the U.S. Senate and that prospects are much better in Sacramento. 

Late Thursday, California's junior Senator Barbara Boxer introduced a measure that includes Feinstein's recommendations. Feinstein agreed to cosponsor the measure. The Pause for Safety Act would allow families to go to court to temporarily stop someone who poses a danger to themselves or others from purchasing a firearm. It would also allow law enforcement to take temporary possession of firearms that have already been purchased if a court determines that the individual poses a threat to themselves or others. It's similar to a bill introduced by Assembly Democrats Nancy Skinner of  Berkeley and Das Williams and state Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson, both from Santa Barbara. 

Democratic Congresswoman Lois Capps, who represents the Isla Vista community, introduced the House version on Thursday, saying "we need reasonable, common sense solutions so that we all feel safe in our homes and out in our communities."

House Democrats have introduced another gun violence measure. It would keep guns away from people convicted of stalking and prohibits the purchase of firearms by those involuntarily committed to outpatient psychiatric care if the court believes the individual poses a threat. Current law only applies to inpatient commitments. That bill has no Republican co-sponsors.