EMERYVILLE - East Bay elected officials and law enforcement leaders today rallied in support of a bill that would allow for the temporary removal of firearms from people who are at risk for committing acts of violence.
The legislation, authored by Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley, and two other state legislators was introduced after an incident in Santa Barbara earlier this year in which a troubled young man went on a shooting spree, killing six and wounding 13, after his parents tried but were unable to get help for him.
Speaking at a news conference in front of the Emeryville Police Department, Skinner said Assembly Bill 1014 establishes a process for obtaining a gun violence restraining order that would temporarily limit a person's access to firearms when there are warning signs or indications that the person is at risk for violence.
Skinner said, "When someone is in crisis, the people closest to them are often the first to spot the warning signs, but almost nothing can now be done to get guns out of the hands of someone in crisis. Parents, like the mother who tried to intervene in Santa Barbara, deserve an effective tool to help prevent these tragedies."
Emeryville police Chief Ken James said, "AB 1014 fills an important gap in the law that prevents law enforcement from acting to prevent violence before it happens. This need has been obvious to law enforcement for years but the time to act is now. The tragedy in Santa Barbara makes that obvious."
Skinner said the legislation is modeled on California's domestic violence restraining order laws and would create a mechanism to intervene and potentially prohibit the purchase of firearms and/or remove firearms already in possession. Law enforcement or family members would have the right to ask a judge to grant an order prohibiting the purchase or possession of firearms, she said.
The bill also provides guidance to courts for evaluating whether to issue a gun violence restraining order based upon a person's prior acts of violence or threats to commit acts of violence toward themselves or others, as well as other risk factors for future violence, Skinner said.
Assemblyman Rob Bonta, D-Alameda, said, "This bill would allow family members to petition the courts to temporarily prevent loved ones from owning guns and would allow law enforcement to search their homes" to make sure they don't have firearms in their possession.
Skinner said AB 1014 was approved by the state Senate's Appropriations Committee last Thursday and will now go to the Senate floor.
She said she hopes the bill will be approved by the Senate and the Assembly by the end of the month and then go to Gov. Jerry Brown for his signature by the end of September.
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