This must be what Barack Obama had in mind when he spoke of “common sense” measures to control gun violence.
The Washington Times notes that a law that will go into effect in California on Friday, New Year’s Day, will allow authorities to seize an individual’s weapons for 21 days if a judge determines there is a “potential for violence.”
The bill that will be become law was proposed in reaction to the Isla Vista massacre, which occurred on May 23, 2014. The perpetrator, Elliot Rodger, killed six people and injured fourteen others near the campus of the University of California at Santa Barbara before turning the gun on himself. Police found him dead in his car with a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.
Rodger left behind a manifesto, titled “My Twisted World,” which he emailed to a dozen acquaintances and family members. The document explained essentially that his intent was to punish women for rejecting him and sexually active men for living a life more enjoyable than his.
It was obviously Roger’s manifesto and a YouTube video he uploaded before embarking on his killing spree that California lawmakers had in mind when they drafted legislation that refers to “potential for violence.”
The problem with this language is that is overly broad and its application is seldom timely. Rodger, for example, made his manifesto available to his chosen recipients after it was already too late to stop him.
The law will permit a family member to seek a “gun violence restraining order” from a judge on the basis of the relative’s opinion that possessing a firearm “poses an immediate and present danger of causing personal injury to [the gun owner]” or others.
“The law gives us a vehicle to cause the person to surrender their weapons, to have a time out, if you will,” Los Angeles Police Department Assistant Chief Michael Moore told a local NPR affiliate. “It allows further examination of the person’s mental state.”
“It’s a short duration and it allows for due process,” he continued, adding: “It’s an opportunity for mental health professionals to provide an analysis of a person’s mental state.”
But even Janet Napolitano, former secretary of Homeland Security under Barack Obama and current president of the University of California, concedes that events like the Isla Vista massacre are “impossible to prevent and almost impossible to predict.”
Second Amendment advocates have cried foul, however, and have insisted that new legislation is not the answer in a state already ripe with gun rules that are more restrictive than most anywhere else in America.
“We don’t need another law to solve this problem,” Sam Paredes, the 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.”