Legislation signed Tuesday by California Governor Jerry Brown allows immediate family members to request firearms restraining orders for relative who may post a threat. The bill, proposed by several Democrats, was a reaction to a mass shooting this past May in Santa Barbara.
The perpetrator, Elliot Rodger, behaved in a way that raised red flags for family members and his therapist, but Rodger’s family says requests for police searches did not go far enough in taking steps to prevent an eventual shooting. According to the new California law, the person seeking the firearms restraining will have to sign an affidavit under oath, and could be charged with a misdemeanor if they lie about a relative presenting a danger. After a restraining order is granted, guns will be removed from the home and a hearing will be scheduled to give the gun owner a forum to argue their case for keeping the weapon. Currently, California law enforcement can only seize guns from people convicted of felonies or violent misdemeanors.
While the bill passed with Democratic support, Republican lawmakers and some Democrats voted against AB1014 -- critics argue that the bill could falsely remove firearms from law abiding gun owners, taking away their ability to protect themselves. Is a gun restraining order the best way to fight gun violence in California? What are the most effective and fair ways to cut back on misuse of guns?
Lindsey Zwicker, staff attorney, Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence based in San Francisco
Brandon Combs, Founder and CEO of Firearms Policy Coalition and executive director of Calguns Foundation, a gun rights advocacy organization in the state