Family Members Can Ask Court to Seize Guns from Unstable Loved Ones

By Jennifer Schlueter

After 22-year-old Elliot Rodger went on a shooting rampage this May in Isla Vista killing 6 and wounding 12 more people, officials called, again, for stricter gun control laws. California assemblywomen Nancy Skinner consequently sponsored a bill allowing guns to be seized from mentally ill individuals. The law, which was signed into effect last Tuesday, allows people to demand a court order to temporarily seize guns from family members who pose a threat to the community or themselves. In order to prevent these potentially dangerous individuals from buying firearms, they will also be added to a list.
Prior to his planned shooting, Elliot had legally acquired three guns, and his parents had repeatedly warned police of his unstable condition. California has recognized that “family members are the ones who most acutely understand when their loved ones are in a dangerous situation,” according to the executive director of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence Josh Horwitz, and thus, has now become the first state of the country to allow them to ask for a court order seizing firearms. In other states only law enforcement officials have the right to do so.
Skinner told the New York Times: “This puts California in the leadership on efforts to stop gun violence, and it gives a very effective tool to law enforcement and families to intervene before a shooting tragedy occurs.”
Opponents of the bill argue against it because it would take away the rights of the Second Amendment and is not an adequate measure to prevent mass shootings. According to the NY Times, Gun rights supporter and California assemblyman Tim Donnelly said: “Every one of us wants to prevent a mass shooting. The question is: Would this bill stop that? I don’t believe you can ever stop that with laws. I don’t believe you can legislate evil out of the hearts of men.”


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