Saturday, August 5, 2017

Did You Really Need This New Law?

Shall Not Be Questioned points to this 8/1/17 Sacramento Bee article about California's recently enacted Gun Violence Restraining Orders law:
California courts ordered people to temporarily give up possession of their firearms 86 times last year.
A new law, which took effect in 2016, allows family members or law enforcement officers to seek a “gun violence restraining order” against someone they believe poses an “immediate and present danger” of harming themselves or others. Generally, the suspension expires within 21 days, though in 10 cases last year, the judge held a hearing and extended the order to one year because they determined the individual was still a substantial threat.
Legislators proposed the gun violence restraining order in 2014, in the wake of a mass murder in the college town of Isla Vista where six individuals were killed by stabbing and shooting. Supporters, including the parents of slain students, argued the law would provide a tool to prevent future tragedies. (Local authorities had conducted a welfare check on the Isla Vista shooter after his parents raised concerns about his mental health.) But critics worried about officials stripping guns from people without good cause and violating the rights of individuals who have not yet committed a crime.
Now, my objection to this new law is that California already has laws to handle persons who pose an “immediate and present danger” of harming themselves or others.   California Welfare & Institution Code sec. 5150 allows any peace officer to hospitalize a person under such circumstances for three days.  The staff can hold him another 14 days for treatment under sec. 5250.  A judge can order hospitalization under sec. 5300.  There was really no need for this law.  And 86 uses in a year in a state as big as California casts serious doubt as to either its need or willingness of authorities to use it.

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