SANTA BARBARA (CBSLA.com) — State lawmakers are pushing for new legislation that would give family or friends of a potential gunman the ability to ask law enforcement to prevent them from owning or buying a firearm.
The proposed bill from California State Assemblymembers Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley) and Das Williams (D-Santa Barbara) would create a gun violence restraining order, which would grant authority to “concerned family members, friends and intimate partners” to “intervene and potentially prohibit the purchase of firearms and/or remove the firearms already in possession.”
Williams told KNX 1070 NEWSRADIO law enforcement would in turn have the ability to investigate reported threats and ask a judge to grant an order prohibiting firearms purchase or possession.
“Most people agree that guns shouldn’t be in the hands of mentally ill or mentally unstable folks, the question is how to remove mentally ill or unstable folks from their weapons,” said Williams. “This would at least give parents and family members, spouses, a chance to bring to a judge a case where someone might hurt themselves…or is potentially homicidal and could hurt other people.”
Under current California law, licensed therapists can notify law enforcement that their client is at risk of committing a violent act allowing authorities to investigate the individual. Law enforcement can then prevent the person from buying or owning firearms.
According to Skinner, there is currently no legal mechanism to limit firearm access while an individual in crisis is seeking or receiving mental health counseling, substance abuse treatment, anger management, or other counseling. Opponents say such legislation would likely be unconstitutional and target a high number of law-abiding Americans.
But Skinner said law enforcement’s response to attempts by the mother of 22-year-old Elliot Rodger regarding concerns about her son’s mental health shows new measures are needed.
“When someone is in crisis, the people closest to them are often the first to spot the warning signs but almost nothing can now be done to get back their guns or prevent them from buying more,” Skinner said. “Parents, like the mother who tried to intervene, deserve an effective tool they can act on to help prevent these tragedies.”
Sen. Hannah Beth Jackson will be joining Williams and Skinner as a principal co-author of the legislation. It was not immediately clear when the bill would be introduced.