Imagine opening the door to a gaggle of police officers in the middle of the night. One hands you a “temporary emergency gun violence restraining order” and recites these words: “You are required to surrender all firearms and ammunition that you own or possess in accordance with Section 18120 of the Penal Code and you may not have in your custody or control, own, purchase, possess, or receive, or attempt to purchase or receive a firearm or ammunition, while this order is in effect. However, a more permanent gun violence restraining order may be obtained from the court. You may seek the advice of an attorney as to any matter connected with the order. The attorney should be consulted promptly so that the attorney may assist you in any matter connected with the order.” And then . . .
the police officer and his colleagues enter your house to confiscate all your firearms and your ammunition. If you don’t willingly ID the location of your firearms and ammunition – and even if you do – the police conduct a thorough search of your house, upending everything, lest you be hiding guns and ammo in anticipation of their visit.
Did I say guns and ammo? That’s not the end of it . . .
The cops also confiscate “documentary evidence” of your potential ballistic threat to yourself or others. That list includes (but is not limited to) “writings, documents, blueprints, drawings, photographs, computer printouts, microfilms, X-rays, files, diagrams, ledgers, books, tapes, audio and video recordings, films, and papers of any type or description.”
It is, indeed, time for you to hire a lawyer. A good lawyer. An expensive lawyer. Because going to court is the only way you’re going to get your guns, ammo and stuff back from the police. You’ve got to prove that you’re not a danger to yourself or society. The state has 21 days in which to hold this hearing, during which time you cannot control, own, purchase, possess, or receive a firearm. You are disarmed.
In this hearing, you finally get to see the evidence against you. Evidence you didn’t know existed until that midnight knock on your door. Evidence that was submitted to the police by disgruntled family members and viewed by a judge, who decided that you posed a “significant” risk to yourself or others – a term he or she felt free to define according to their own parameters.
The judge hears your lawyer’s arguments. A disaffected spouse made the complaint to the police that triggered the temporary gun violence restraining order. She twisted innocent comments and common firearms practices into ominous remarks and suspicious behavior suggesting imminent violence. And why not? The penalty for bearing false witness against you is a slap on the wrist: a misdemeanor.
The judge isn’t buying your lawyer’s explanations. Well, not entirely. Besides, revoking the gun violence restraining order would put her career in jeopardy and pit her decision against the decision of the judge who issued the order. For her sake, for safety’s sake, she renews the gun ban for one year. See you then.
How, exactly, did this happen?
First of all, you live in California, a state that is to gun rights what McDonald’s is to haute cuisine. Second, Governor Jerry Brown signed AB 1014, Gun Violence Restraining Orders, one of the worst assaults on Americans’ natural, civil and Constitutionally protected right to keep and bear arms in the long, sad history of this country’s civilian disarmament. Which Brown hasn’t done . . . yet. The above description is fantasy. Well, more like a nightmare.
But not according to the LA Times. They consider it A reasonable gun measure prompted by Isla Vista rampage. Huh?
Among the many tragedies that intersected during Elliot Rodger’s violent rampage near Santa Barbara in May — killing six people and wounding more than a dozen others before he killed himself — was that Rodger’s parents had sought police help as their son’s life spiraled out of control. Unfortunately, until he started killing people, Rodger violated no law that would have justified police action.
In fact, no less than four policemen showed-up at Elliot’s door to interview the killer before his rampage. They could have taken him into protective custody. Under existing law, the cops could have confiscated Rodger’s firearms and prohibited him from possessing or purchasing guns. Of course, he also used a knife and a car to murder innocent victims. A fact the LA Times is quick to dismiss.
The legislation arose after it was discovered that Rodger, despite a history of mental illness, legally bought all three of the guns he used. Notably, they were only part of his arsenal: Rodger killed his first three victims with knives, and he injured several others by striking them with his car.
That has prompted some critics of this legislation to argue that it would not have prevented the rampage that inspired it. That may be true — or at least partly true — but it misses the larger point that mentally ill people with violent tendencies should not possess firearms.
The last paragraph speaks to the “reasoning” behind AB 1014 – and every other piece of gun control legislation inflicted on American citizens. There’s no evidence that AB 1014 will increase public safety. Or that it’s needed. (Not to mention the expense involved.) But who cares if it works or not? It might! And you can’t argue with the law’s intent.
Which is all that matters, really. Check out the”shareline” sitting above the story: “Mentally ill people with violent tendencies should not possess firearms.” According to the LA Times’ editors, that’s all you need to know. How about “mentally ill people with violent tendencies should be given due process and removed from society until such time as they may safely rejoin it.”
More to the point, the law’s enormous potential for abuse – by mentally ill, greedy or angry family members and the government aided and abetted by understandably risk aversive police and timid judges – isn’t important. Like the legislators who crafted this ticking time bomb, the LA Times completely, willfully, obstinately, happily ignores concerns that AB 1014 will trample on gun rights and open the door to unconstitutional confiscation.
This is a reasonable approach that the gun lobby should join in supporting, and that Brown should sign into law.
Hopefully, the Times Editorial Board’s invitation for “gun lobby” support is ironic; giving gun rights advocates the metaphorical middle finger. Otherwise, I’d have to conclude that they’re insane. And have their access to computers and the Internet removed so they no longer pose a danger to themselves or society.