Responding to the Isla Vista shooting rampage, a state Senate panel on Tuesday approved legislation that would allow restraining orders to remove guns from the possession of individuals who are judged by family members, medical workers or the police to be a risk to themselves or others.
Assemblyman Das Williams (D-Santa Barbara) said he co-authored the bill to address flaws in the legal system that prevented action against Elliot Rodger in the months before his rampage even though family members and others saw warning signs.
Using weapons including guns, Rodger killed six people in a rampage near the campus of UC Santa Barabara on May 24.
“In the recent Isla Vista tragedy, family members saw the warning signs and took action. But they had no legal tools to prevent this mass killing,” Williams told the Senate Public Safety Committee. “AB 1014 provides an option for family members and loved ones to temporarily separate those who may be a danger to themselves and others from firearms. Mentally unstable individuals should not have access to firearms.”
Under the legislation, law enforcement can ask a court to issue a restraining order preventing individuals from possessing guns if the officers, family members or medical workers can provide evidence that there is a substantial likelihood of violence.
The committee voted to send the legislation on to the Senate Appropriations Committee for consideration despite opposition from representatives of gun-rights groups, including Sean Doherty, a lobbyist for the California Assn. of Federal Firearms Licensees. He said the bill is unconstitutional and will be challenged in court.
“This bill goes too far,” Doherty told the panel. “AB 1014 shreds the right of privacy and right of property that has been jurisprudence for decades.”
Committee Chairwoman Loni Hancock (D-Berkeley) noted that law enforcement officials met with the gunman multiple times in response to concerns by others before the mass killing but did not have enough evidence of a problem to take action. “There should have been a way to identify what was going on with the Santa Barbara case and there should have been a way to get those guns earlier,” Hancock said.
The bill was co-authored by Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara), who also won committee approval Tuesday of a measure that requires law enforcement doing a "welfare check" on an individual to first conduct a search of the Department of Justice’s Automated Firearms System, California’s database of gun purchases. SB 505 was also introduced in response to the Isla Vista rampage.