New California Gun Law the First of Its Kind in the U.S.

Good job, Richard Martinez and Peter Rodger.

You might remember the names, or they might sound familiar. In May 2014, Christopher Martinez was killed by Elliot Roger in a spree that took the lives of 6 others and wounded 13. Family members of Isla Vista killer, Elliot Rodger, had reported their concerns to Santa Barbara law enforcement after the 22-year-old posted videos of himself threatening violence online. In response, Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s deputies visited Rodger’s apartment just three weeks before the murders and performed a police procedure known as a “welfare check.” The deputies found Elliot to be polite and amenable.

The deputies did not know then that Elliot legally owned three handguns, nor had they viewed the threatening videos that Elliot made.

Richard Martinez, Christopher’s dad, was very vocal about gun violence, saying:

“Chris died because of craven, irresponsible politicians and the NRA. They talk about gun rights. What about Chris’ right to live? When will this insanity stop? When will enough people say stop this madness? We should say to ourselves, not one more.”

Two dadsSubsequently, Richard Martinez, and Elliot’s dad, Peter Rodger, met. Martinez told ABC News affiliate KEYT-TV, “We plan to work together so other families such as ours will not suffer as ours have. This was a private conversation between grieving fathers who’ve reached common ground.”

In response to the deadly rampage near the UC Santa Barbara campus on May 23rd, a Bill was introduced in California. Last week, Governor Jerry Brown signed the Bill into law. It’s a landmark gun control bill making California the first state in the country to allow those who suspect that a close relative might pose a threat to seek a restraining order that would confiscate any firearms.

The new law allows immediate family members or law enforcement officers to approach a judge for a “gun violence restraining order,” which would temporarily confiscate guns from someone they believe may pose a danger to themselves or others. The restraining orders can last up to 21 days and a hearing must be held within 14 days, at which point the term of the restraining order can be extended to up to a year.

Eleven family members of three of the students killed in Isla Vista publicly voiced support for the bill in an open letter to legislators.

The Bill faced opposition from several gun rights advocacy groups including the National Rifle Association, California Rifle and Pistol Association, Gun Owners of California and the Calguns Foundation.

“Our concern is not so much what they intended to do; our concern is with the method they put in place to address people with mental or emotional issues,” Sam Paredes, executive director of Gun Owners of California, told the Associated Press. “We think this just misses the mark and may create a situation where law-abiding gun owners are put in jeopardy.”

Richard Martinez disagrees, stating;

“Nothing we can do will bring back Christopher, but I’m confident this new law will help save lives and prevent other families from experiencing this same kind of tragedy. States around the country should be exploring this life-saving measure”

Another piece of legislation signed into law Tuesday requires law enforcement agencies to enact new rules that encourage officers to consult the state’s database of legal gun purchases when performing a welfare check of someone who may be at risk of violence. The exact policies are to be determined at the local level That law was introduced by Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson.

1404780561000-AP-Deputies-Shoot-13-Year-Old

Andy Lopez

In addition to the two laws, Governor Brown signed another law requiring pellet guns or toy guns to be brightly colored. That Bill was introduced in response to deputy sheriff Erick Gelhaus killing 13 year-old Andy Lopez. Gelhaus contends that he thought the pellet gun carried by Andy was an assault rifle.

 

Posted on 10/06/2014, in Heroes, Potpourri, Trials & Cases and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 39 Comments.

  1. I am SO glad to hear this law!!

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  2. Awesome news to hear but I doubt that will be very effective a restraining order will only be followed by those who obey the law, and the other problem I see is the burden is Clear and Convincing evidence in other words who ever petitions for the RO must provide clear and convincing evidence that this person is a threat… its not beyond a reasonable doubt but the criteria is still pretty high

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    • Rodriguez, I hear your concern about the rules of evidence, but until and unless the procedures fail, we should put hope in this. Because this law gives family and police standing to file for the RO, legislatures eliminated people not close to the respondent from making spurious allegations.

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      • We have to do something, to do nothing, on the concept that only law abiding citizens will follow the law, is to say we accept the ways things are now. Folks keep saying “we don’t need more laws, we need to enforce the laws we have” don’t understand that we don’t have the ‘right’ laws, the laws that would best keep us safe and save more of our children.

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        • Folks keep saying “we don’t need more laws, we need to enforce the laws we have” don’t understand that we don’t have the ‘right’ laws, the laws that would best keep us safe and save more of our children.

          APPLAUSE!!

          Yes, and most of those complaining about there being too many laws, are those who thump the 10 commandments as the “law of the land” but fail to “love thy neighbor as thyself” which if done, would make many of man’s laws moot.

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    • In this case the family did have evidence from his youtube videos that he made prior to his rampage. Unfortunately those investigating the complaint did not have all the information needed to make a proper investigation.

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      • I am flabbergasted that these officers didn’t even view the videos to know what to look for when they did their welfare check.

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  3. crustyolemothman

    While some may complain that this law is not perfect, it is a good step forward! Now is we can get some of the other states to look at this and draft legislation that is similar, we can say that at least a little progress is being made to protect the “right to live” that the non-gun owing portion of society should have…

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    • Yes, Mothman! It is a good step forward and it happened pretty fast. Just goes to show what state legislatures can do and accomplish when they are interested and represent constituents rather than organizations.

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    • Yes, the right for anyone to own any type of firearms should not be greater than our right to live

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    • Jueseppi,
      Good afternoon, dear friend. Thanks for the reblog.

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      • It is a very good afternoon, especially if we get more good news like this. Hope you’re enjoying this fine Fall Monday.

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        • Hey Jueseppi! I went outside and looked at the fallen leaves — thought about raking. Then the wind came blowing the leaves, so I decided not to rake. I went out with the dog, and the leaves were back so at this point, I’m hoping the wind will take care of things naturally. LOL!

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  4. Thanks to new subscribers! Thanks also to those who tweet out the articles posted here.

    Thanks!

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  5. This is some good news and I’ve said it before……all these look-a-like bb guns and air rifles/pistols should be made of a bright color so that another officer never mistakes it for the real thing. Not just the tip, which many break off or color over, but the whole thing. If this was enacted nationally then John Crawford III would also still be with us along with many others who lost their lives to these look-a-likes.

    Another thing to remember, although I’m sure that some will disagree with me, is that half of the victims who lost their lives to Elliot Roger, lost them not from a gun but a knife and 4 of those injured were run over by Roger. This law is a good start but still fails to address the mental issue behind the reason for the rampage. It may take a gun out of the person’s hands but it does nothing about the knives and vehicle that Roger also used. Plain and simple he needed to be institutionalized until he was no longer a threat to anyone. People list Roger will find another way.

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    • crustyolemothman

      towerflower, I do realize that the guns he possessed were not the primary weapon he chose to use… However there is a chance that had this law been in effect at the time that the legal authorities would have not only taken the guns from him, they would have had a much better reason to stop and take a hard look at his mental condition. So in a round about way it does bring the mental condition of the alleged incompetent individual out to the front and center. Of course, this law, much like all laws, will only be as good as the people enforcing it… I am surprised that we have heard little about the infringement of the rights of the poor killers this law is attempting to stop…

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    • Towerflower,
      Yes, and a glow in the dark finish.

      Re:

      This law is a good start but still fails to address the mental issue behind the reason for the rampage.

      I haven’t seen the actual statute yet, but if it operates the same as a civil restraining order, those making the petition will have opportunity to bring mental issues before the court. Petitions for civil restraining orders generally have numerous options that the petitioner can request, so it would be no surprise if the petition contains an option that requests the court to order that the respondent be evaluated by a mental health professional.

      This is something I plan following up on, and as soon as the standardized forms are made available, I’ll go over it.

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      • butterflydreamer2

        Xena,

        That would be great if the petition contained and option that requests the court to order that the respondent be evaluated by a mental health professional. I don’t recall that option being offered here in Calif. In fact we have been told unless the respondent agrees to be evaluated, you’re pretty well SOL.

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        • Hey butterflydreamer! The standard forms for an order of protection (also referred to as a restraining order), in Illinois, includes a a miscellaneous remedies section which the petitioner can ask the court
          to order the respondent to undergo and successfully complete counseling. It doesn’t use the term “evaluation” probably because a counselor would first need to evaluate. If it’s the counselor’s decision that the person needs inpatient mental health care, the counselor can then make that recommendation. If the respondent refuses, then it opens up an entirely different can of worms and the family member who originally filed the petition for protection has to file a petition for involuntary admission with the court.

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    • Another thing to remember, although I’m sure that some will disagree with me, is that half of the victims who lost their lives to Elliot Roger, lost them not from a gun but a knife …

      Yes, his killed his 3 roommates with a knife. That was planned. Had he used a gun without a silencer, he may not have been able to then leave the apartment and give himself time to conduct the further rampage with a gun because someone would have heard the shots and called 911.

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    • Yes, the mental health issues must be better addressed.

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  6. crustyolemothman

    O/T but still important knowledge. This is how they are training the police officers today. If you read it you will realize it does give a pretty good explanation as to why the shots fired by D. Wilson were placed where they were. This type of targeting is supposedly only to be used under extreme conditions where the person being shot at is armed and attacking the officer, however it seems that way too many officers are now using this shooting method first. I can almost understand this targeting method in some conditions, however it should never have become acceptable to use it on a daily basis against any available target…

    http://www.shootingillustrated.com/index.php/17234/failure-drill/

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    • crustyolemothman

      How many of you heard Dunn try to explain his use of this method while on the stand?

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    • Mothman,
      I didn’t read the entire article but did read up to the point where it said “gunfight.” That says it all. When a person is unarmed, there is no gunfight.

      Now, if it’s true that Darren Wilson alleged that while in his vehicle, Mike tried taking his gun, then it’s only logical that Mike did not have a gun. Darren Wilson killed Michael Brown because he wanted to; not because he had to. It’s the same with Dunn. He killed Jordan and intended on killing every occupant in that SUV. He did not bother taking off like a bat out of hell until realizing that he had not killed them all.

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      • crustyolemothman

        Xena, The only point that I was attempting to make on the shooting of Michael was the target points that Wilson chose. Unfortunately at this point all we have is assumptions as to what defense Wilson will chose. The disgusting part to this is that historically it is extremely hard to get an indictment and even harder to get a conviction. The law is stacked in the favor of the police and against the victim. This is one area where the law needs to be changed to hold the PD accountable for “all” shootings with no exceptions. If there is an unbiased review panel that investigates “all” shootings then the PD will perhaps think twice before murdering a suspect just because they can…

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        • Mothman,
          Re:

          This is one area where the law needs to be changed to hold the PD accountable for “all” shootings with no exceptions. If there is an unbiased review panel that investigates “all” shootings then the PD will perhaps think twice before murdering a suspect just because they can…

          I agree. Now that you mention it, I wonder if there is actual legislation giving law enforcement the right to use deadly force, or if the “excessive force” authority is only in union contracts and case decisions. Here is where I’m coming from (thinking out loud), when prosecutors bring cases against members of law enforcement, it is generally for murder, assault, etc., in other words crimes that are committed by undeputized citizens. The defense for law enforcement is a defense against the use of “excessive force” as defined by what?

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  7. This is a start. I’m sure those NRA gun nutZZ are moaning like crazy about now. In NJ, if the police are called to a residence where firearms are registered, they know before they get there from some state database……….and we’re damn glad of it !!

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    • crustyolemothman

      racerrodig, How well does this work in a very transient population? While I would like to see something similar in all the states, and granted it would be a good tool if used properly, so many people are moving from place to place that it would seem that unless the person was required to register his weapons each time he moved it would be outdated before it was entered into the computer in too many cases. It would be really good if we could get the criminals to put their weapons into the data base… do I need to put the “sark” notation?

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      • Mothman,
        Good point and concern, but I think because this law limits standing to family and the police, family members might know, (or have an idea) if the respondent has left the state. Also, the new law confiscates guns owned by the respondent.

        The circumvention that I see, (but will know more when I see the petition), if whether the law has something in place that prevents the person from purchasing another gun while the restraining order is in effect.

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        • crustyolemothman

          Xena, Actually I was talking about the New Jersey law that Racerrodig had mentioned. A law like that would also be greatly beneficial to the public if the police used it properly….

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          • Mothman, I agree. Actually, I suppose that I wrongfully assumed that municipal police can contact the State Police to access a database of licensed gun owners. They can here in Illinois but if they do so is another matter.

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  8. Three things come to mind having read each comment. 1. Identification of non-lethal weapons, i.e. toy guns (all sizes/makes) “Crickett Rifles” – “My First Rifle” and “Chipmunk Rifles” – “My First Rifle.” These are specifically for children and youths. Crickett comes in blue, pink, orange and multicolor. All are 22’s. It includes pistols. Chipmunk has a pink pistol and wood grain type rifles. They’re all 22’s. They’re all lethal. Manufacturers, gun rights advocates and again, “responsible gun owners” who choose to indulge their children could be hurdles that will delay a reasonable coordinated identification from adult lethal weapons.

    2.The United States Department of Health and Human Services and The Office for Civil Rights – Protected Health Information by HIPAA laws – The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. PHI, meaning “protected health information.” In this link (2) pages, the requirements are outlined. I question “Who is not required to comply with the HIPAA privacy rule.” Note: “most state and local police or other law enforcement agencies” and “schools and school districts.” http://www.hhs.gov/ocr/privacy/hipaa/understanding/special/emergency/final_hipaa_guide_law_enforcement.pdf

    In “certain instances” a HIPAA covered entity (Hospitals etc.) may disclose PHI to LE without the individual’s signed HIPAA – however, it is under “certain circumstances.” Coupled with “most state, local and LE agencies,” the dividing line when PHI cannot be divulged is too limited. Would a court then supersede this mandate? Also, I find the words “information must be limited to basic demographic and health information” disconcerting. When time is critical, there are too many hoops to jump through. And I don’t feel LE is trained well enough, if at all, in dealing with these hoops. It’s shoot first, then the mental health information comes to light.

    I find the HIPAA laws vague and some draw backs may come from the Office of Civil Rights. I think the laws need to coordinate straight across the board with identifiable information on PHI’s. But what happens when someone with mental health issues has never had their issue(s) identified or documented? I also question the family and LE being the only subjects to intervene in a potential case. While I understand “spurious allegations,” at times, families are the last to know while neighbors, friends or acquaintances may have reasonable concerns based on suspicious encounters/actions. I don’t think they should be eliminated or not considered.

    3. “Background checks.” Why not a coordinated effort? I’m thrilled about the data base for registered gun owners, but it’s only half as useful when mental health issues are not coordinated with that registration. It’s yet another hoop – no identifiable mental problems. Elliot Rogers was a prime example. LE found him polite and did not view the videos. Essentially, he was fine, he answered the door on a welfare check.

    I am very glad CA has adopted laws in the right direction. (I hope they expand them) And my hope too is that other states will follow, but I cannot fathom diverse laws across states anymore than I could tolerate not being able to ask for identification from a non-HMO member seeking emergency care for low back pain and narcotics.

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    • Pilcher,
      Thanks for that valuable information regarding HIPAA. Legislatures do wrestle when it comes to writing laws and who has standing. Standing to petition the court for an order of protection in Illinois are limited to family, spouse, roommates, in order words, those who have a relationship with the person who they seek protection from.

      There were too many situations where ex-boyfriends were threatening current boyfriends, ex-girlfriends threatening current girl-friends, and people who never had a relationship with the stalker had no options at law to stop the behavior. The police would not arrest unless there was actual physical harm or destruction of property. In January 2010, Illinois finally made available no stalking petitions. It does not require a relationship, but does require at least two incidents.

      Just imagine, if everyone lived peacefully together, and the ownership of guns was not as popular as owning a car, these laws would not be necessary.

      That’s not helpful to those with mental illness in terms of harming themselves, but with less ability to have guns, others might be saved.

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