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California lawmakers suggest new gun law in wake of shooting

Even if most people may not be able to cite a specific gun law here in California, they know that these laws exist and that there can be legal ramifications if a person breaks them. Some have argued that there are not enough restrictions when it comes to who can purchase or own a firearm. But people who advocate the rights given in the 2nd Amendment may disagree and would argue that further restrictions could violate a person’s rights.

Unfortunately, if several lawmakers here in California get their way, residents across the state could see new limitations when it comes to purchasing and owning firearms. The new proposal, AB 1014, comes in the wake of the killings near UC Santa Barbara. And although the proposal is supposed to address the public’s concern regarding gun ownership among for those with mental health conditions, some in the community see it as a “knee-jerk reaction” that might create problems down the road.

For those who have not heard yet, the proposed law change would give law enforcement the right to petition judges for a restraining order that could prohibit a person with a mental health issue from possessing or purchasing a gun. Law enforcement would be allowed to petition for this restraining order if a person’s family or friends expressed concern that the person could harm themselves or others.

But because not everyone’s situation is the same, it’s unclear how this law will function in specific cases. Are the requests for restraining orders, which are based on statements given by family or friends, verified by police before bringing a petition to a judge? How do police know whether these statements are true or not? How long is a person black-listed from purchasing or possessing a firearm? Can that person appeal the restriction against them?

It’s because of this uncertainty that, if the law is passed, could lead to legal problems for people who might find themselves breaking the law without even realizing it. Some might also argue whether it is really protecting the public or more so violating a person’s rights than anything.

Source: The Los Angeles Times, “Mass killings prompt lawmakers to propose new firearms bill,” Patrick McGreevy and Melanie Mason, May 28, 2014

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Former Criminal Prosecutor With Proven Results