California Democrats are proposing a new initiative to temporarily restrict people’s gun ownership rights if their family or others believe they may be a danger to others.
The bill is a reaction to the May shooting in Santa Barbara by Elliot Rodger, who killed six people before taking his own life.
The state’s two Democratic senators — Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein — proposed the Pause for Safety Act on Thursday, along with a California Democrat from the House, Rep. Lois Capps. The bill would encourage states to allow people to seek “gun violence prevention orders” from courts, which would let courts temporarily block the purchase of firearms for people who could pose a threat.
Courts would also be allowed to issue “gun violence prevention warrants,” which would let police temporarily seize firearms held by people who are potentially dangerous.
Boxer noted that Elliot Rodger’s parents warned police that their son could be a threat, but said that warning wasn’t enough.
“It is haunting to me that the family of the gunman was desperate to prevent an act of violence and alerted police, but they were still unable to stop this tragedy,” Boxer said Thursday. “When the people who know someone best fear there is a threat of violence, they should be able to go to court – with due process for everyone involved – to help prevent a tragedy.
“We must do everything in our power to keep firearms out of the hands of those who pose a serious risk of harm to themselves or to others,” Feinstein added.
But while the Rodgers case involved a warning from Rodgers parents, Boxer said the bill is aimed at allowing anyone to seek court restrictions on other people’s gun ownership rights.
The legislation doesn’t require states to let people seek these court orders. But it would provide new federal grants to states that take these steps.
Two Democrats in the California Assembly have proposed similar legislation.