California may expand gun violence restraining order law

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — California lawmakers took steps Monday to let school employees ask judges to temporarily strip gun rights from potentially dangerous people in the wake of a mass school shooting in Texas.

California is already one of a handful of states that allow immediate family members and law enforcement officials to request gun violence restraining orders against people who show warning signs of violence. Assemblyman Phil Ting’s bill, AB2888, would extend that ability to more people, including school employees and co-workers.

Democratic lawmakers supporting the bill invoked the Friday shooting at Santa Fe High School in Texas that killed 10.

“I ask that we don’t just send thoughts and prayers, that we actually send some action to students and families who really are scratching their heads and wondering what we can do to stem the violence at our schools,” Ting said.

The San Francisco Democrat also mentioned the shooting earlier this year at a high school in Parkland, Florida. If school officials, family members or police could have requested a restraining order against the Parkland shooter, who had demonstrated violent warning signs, he might not have been able to legally possess a firearm.

“We have reached a crisis that must be addressed,” said Assemblywoman Eloise Gomez Reyes, a Grand Terrace Democrat and one of the bill’s co-authors. “No child should have to be worried that when they go to school in the morning that they are entering a war zone.”

If a judge issues the restraining order, the gun owner would have to surrender their guns and ammunition to law enforcement.

Assemblywoman Melissa Melendez said she doesn’t think the bill gives gun owners enough opportunity to defend themselves. She said she otherwise might have supported the bill.

“I don’t think there’s a person in this room who doesn’t want to do something,” the Lake Elsinore Republican said. “But whenever anybody says, ‘We have to do something,’ that usually means they don’t know what to do.”

Assemblyman James Gallagher, a Yuba City Republican, said he believes restraining orders can be effective, but law enforcement isn’t doing enough to enforce them.

Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed a similar bill last year, arguing that it was too soon to expand the state’s existing law on gun violence restraining orders, which was passed in 2016.

According to Ting’s office, 200 such restraining orders have been issued since the law was passed.

The Assembly passed the bill 46-23. It now heads to the Senate.

This article provided by NewsEdge.