KQED called me yesterday to schedule an appearance on NPR’s Forum radio program (one hour from now at high noon EST). They want me to talk about the push by California legislators to create a post-Isla Vista spree-killing “gun violence restraining order.” There is no text available for the bill. According to latimes.com the measure would use “the same process that restraining orders are granted in cases of domestic violence. Family members, partners and friends would have the ability to alert law enforcement if they believe someone poses a threat to themselves or others. Law enforcement officers would then be able to petition a judge to grant a restraining order that could prohibit possession or purchase of a gun.” What could possibly go wrong? Seriously, help me out here. Before that, though, keep in mind that . . .
California already has a system to remove firearms from dangerous people – by removing dangerous people from society. If the police who interviewed Eliott Rodger for his “mental health check” a month before the killings had made the right call (not blaming, just saying), Rodger would have been detained under what’s called a 5150. [Click here to read the statute.] Rodger would have been subject to a 72-hour “hold” or involuntary commitment.
Regardless of the subsequent determination (i.e. whether the court released Rodger or continued to keep him under lock and key), he would have lost his gun rights for five years. Short of that, if a therapist had reported that Rodger had made a credible threat against another person, the state could have revoked his gun rights for a period of six-months.
So why does California need a law that’s invites abuse by feuding family members and others? I mean what judge wouldn’t sign a “gun violence restraining order?” and risk being “that guy” who let a spree killer go? And what possible good would this law do anyway? Under the new bill (as it’s being discussed) a judge would deem an individual too dangerous to own or buy firearms – but not too dangerous enough to lock up.
Rodger killed three men with a knife and severely injured four people with his car. Why take away a potential killer’s firearms, but leave him access to knives, a baseball bat, his car, poisonous cleaning products, etc?
Madness. Not to mention the [paranoid!] possibility that California could use the new bill to declare gun rights campaigners a danger to society per se and confiscate their firearms. Your thoughts?