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Law & the Courts

California Legislators Pass Bill Expanding Gun-Confiscation Law

California lawmakers passed a bill on Tuesday that would empower school personnel and co-workers to petition a court to temporarily take away firearms in the possession of someone they believe to be a danger to themselves or others.

The bill expands an existing gun-confiscation law, which currently restricts those who can petition the court for a gun violence restraining order to roommates, law enforcement, and immediate family members of the the individual in question.

The bill, which passed 25–12, now requires Governor Jerry Brown’s signature, which is not guaranteed, as he vetoed a similar proposal in 2016.

“This is about getting guns out of the hands of the wrong people,” Democratic assemblyman Phil Ting of San Francisco, who introduced the bill, told the San Francisco Chronicle.

Under current law, if a gun owner is reported to the court as a potential danger, his guns are confiscated for 21 days, pending a hearing to determine if the confiscation should be extended for one year.

Some gun-rights advocates and pro–Second Amendment lawmakers consider the measure as an infringement on constitutional guarantees.

“I view this as another attack on our Second Amendment rights,” said Republican state senator Jim Nielsen of Tehama County.

The law establishing California’s gun violence restraining order process was passed in 2014 in response to a mass shooting near the University of California Santa Barbara campus, which claimed six lives. The process was utilized just 189 times statewide in 2016 and 2017, and just 12 of those petitions were filed by family members, with the rest coming from law enforcement, according to the Chronicle.

While the the National Rifle Association (NRA) has not weighed in on the California legislation, the group shifted its position on gun violence restraining orders earlier this year in the wake of the Parkland, Fla., shooting that took 17 lives in February. After initially opposing the measure in principle, the NRA called on Congress in March to provide funding for states to adopt so-called “risk protection orders,” which are synonymous with gun violence restraining orders.

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