A controversial bill that gives judges the power to strip California residents of their Second Amendment rights went into effect January 1.
The new law, previously known as Assembly Bill (AB) 1014, is aimed at the mentally ill, although critics say its language is so broad that innocent gunowners will be targeted.
“Under AB 1014, Second Amendment rights would be stripped away on as little as hearsay,” a petition on the website of the Firearms Policy Coalition, a gun rights group states. “With as little as a misunderstood Facebook post, your gun rights could be STRIPPED AWAY and your LIFE TURNED UPSIDE DOWN.”
Supporters of the law disagree, and claim it will prevent mass shootings.
“AB 1014 provides an effective tool to get guns out of the hands of loved ones to avoid these tragedies,” the law’s co-sponsor, State Assembly member Nancy Skinner, told The Los Angeles Times. Skinner said the law is aimed at preventing tragedies such as the May 2014 mass shooting in Isla Vista which was carried out by Elliot Rodger, a man who was allegedly mentally ill.
An End-Run Around the Second Amendment?
Here is how AB 2014 lets law enforcement confiscate guns:
- A family member or law enforcement officer who believes someone else is mentally ill or capable of violence asks law enforcement or a prosecutor to apply to a judge for a Gun Violence Restraining Order, or GVRO.
- The subject of the GVRO is not notified of this action. This allows the judge to issue the order without seeing the person it is directed against and gives that individual no opportunity to contest it.
- Once the GVRO is issued, law enforcement officers have the power to confiscate the subject’s guns and hold them for 21 days – unless the judge determines that the order should be made permanent.
- The GVRO would give police the power to search homes and businesses without a warrant.
- The GVRO would also prevent the person from purchasing firearms in the state of California.
“In other words, a judge could issue the order without ever hearing from the person in question, if there are reasonable grounds to believe the person is a threat based on accounts from the family and police,” a Firearms Policy Coalition press release states.
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