California adopted 15 firearms-related bills last Friday, including a controversial 'red flag' gun confiscation law which adds co-workers, employers and educators to the list of who can file a gun violence restraining order on those they say are a danger to themselves and others. Currently, only law enforcement and immediate family members can apply to temporarily confiscate peoples' firearms. Most of the new laws take effect January 1, according to the LA Times.
Signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) after being vetoed twice by his Democratic predecessor Jerry Brown (who said that educators can work through family members or law enforcement if a restraining order is required), the gun confiscation bill is so broad that the ACLU said it "poses a significant threat to civil liberties" since guns can be seized from owners before they have an opportunity to contest the requests, and those making the requests may "lack the relationship or skills required to make an appropriate assessment," NBC San Diego reports.
All that's needed for a co-worker or educator to file a complaint is to have had "substantial and regular interactions" with gun owners, along with permission from their employers or school administrators. Those seeking the orders will be required to file a sworn statement outlining their concerns.
The author of the bill, Democratic Assemblyman Phil Ting of San Francisco, said that "With school and workplace shootings on the rise, it's common sense to give the people we see every day the power to intervene and prevent tragedies," citing a recent study which found that 21 mass shootings may have been prevented by a gun restraining order.
Meanwhile, a companion bill signed by Newsom and written by Democratic Assemblywoman Jacqui Irwin of Thousand Oaks allows gun violence restraining orders to last one and five years, though gun owners would be allowed to petition the state to get their guns back earlier. In another Ting-authored companion bill, gun owners who agree to voluntarily surrender their firearms can notify the court via a form, vs. a hearing which Ting says wastes time and resources.
The National Rifle Association (NRA)'s Amy Hunter, meanwhile, said of another bill signed on Friday (SB 61) which prohibits Californians from buying more than one semiautomatic rifle per month, and bans the sale of such rifles to those younger than 21: "This bill places burdens on law-abiding residents," adding "It will not make anyone safer."
Republican state legislators criticized the one-gun-a-month bill, as well as the state's failure to remove guns from the thousands of felons and the severely mentally ill as they are already empowered to do so.
"Instead we continue to do more and more legislation that interferes with the law-abiding citizen’s right to own and possess firearms, which is their constitutional right to do," said Yuba City Republican Assemblyman James Gallagher (LA Times).
According to the Times, other bills signed Friday by Newsom will:
- Allow those subject to a gun-violence restraining order to submit a form to the court voluntarily relinquishing their firearm rights
- Require firearm packaging to contain a warning statement on suicide prevention
- Mandate that county sheriffs who issue licenses for concealed weapons charge a fee covering the cost of vetting the applicant, thus eliminating the current $100 cap on fees
- Prohibit gun shows at the Del Mar Fairgrounds in San Diego County
- Require, starting in 2024, that the sale of components used to build a firearm — often used to build untraceable “ghost guns” — be carried out through a licensed vendor.