California Gov. Jerry brown approved a bill Tuesday that would give family members the power to seize the firearms of a relative they deem to be a danger to himself/herself or others.
Under AB1014, known as the “gun violence restraining order” bill, family members would be allowed to petition for a judge’s order instructing law enforcement to confiscate the firearms of the at-risk or allegedly dangerous relative.
Should the order be granted and the firearms confiscated, a hearing must be held within 14 days to give the gun owner a chance to demonstrate that he or she is not a threat.
During the proceedings, the judge will evaluate the person’s mental well-being and suitability to possess firearms, and ultimately decide whether to return the guns or authorize the state to hold onto them.
Under current California law, authorities can confiscate firearms from any prohibited person, e.g. felon, domestic abuser, mental defective (adjudicated), minor, but need to obtain a judge’s order before confiscating firearms from those who have no criminal record or documented mental illness.
In addition to AB1014, Gov. Brown signed another bill that requires law enforcement to develop policies to ensure that officers reference gun-purchaser databases when they are responding to routine welfare checks. Knowing whether the individual has a firearm will help them to decide whether it is in the public interest to obtain a judge’s order to seize the weapon.
The passing of the bills was greeted as victory for gun-control organizations.
“It’s hard to know how much it will be used or how much it will prevent,” said Amanda Wilcox, an member of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. “It only takes avoiding one loss for this to be worth it.”
But for gun-rights groups the bills open the door for abuse, and further infringement on one’s Second Amendment rights.
“Our concern is not so much what they intended to do; our concern is with the method they put in place to address people with mental or emotional issues,” Sam Paredes, executive director of Gun Owners of California, told The Associated Press. “We think this just misses the mark and may create a situation where law-abiding gun owners are put in jeopardy.”
The impetus behind the measures were the Isla Vista spree killings back in May, when a mentally disturbed 22-year-old fatally stabbed or shot six people and wounded 13 others.