Legislation that would allow judges to strip citizens of their Second Amendment rights with the stroke of a pen might be coming to your state.
Lawmakers in 11 states want to give judges the authority to issue a Gun Violence Restraining Order, also known as a GVRO or “risk warrant,” The Atlantic reported. A risk warrant gives law enforcement the power to search homes and confiscate guns without notice, based on allegations that persons are a threat to others or themselves. It also bars people in that category from buying firearms or ammunition.
The subject of the GVRO would not know it was issued until police knocked on the door.
California and Connecticut have similar laws, and 11 other states are expected to consider such bills next year: New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Virginia, Wisconsin, Illinois, Missouri, Minnesota, Michigan and Massachusetts, according to The Atlantic.
Here is how California’s law works:
- A family member or law enforcement officer who believes someone 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.
- Under California law — the model for such legislation — all the judge would need to issue it is a claim from a family member or a law enforcement officer that a person is mentally ill.
Gun Confiscation to Save Lives?
The rationale behind the California bill was to keep firearms out of the hands of potential mass killers, such as Elliot Rodger, who killed six people in Isla Vista, California, in 2014. News reports indicate the family tried to get law enforcement to take Rodger’s guns prior to the killing spree. Researchers also say that gun confiscation can prevent suicides. Jeffrey Swanson, a psychiatry professor at Duke University, believes that a Connecticut gun confiscation law that’s been on the books since 1999 has saved 100 lives, Atlantic writer Dan Friedman wrote. The Connecticut law that Swanson studied is different from the California law and allows only law enforcement to request risk warrants, the NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action noted.
Second Amendment-rights groups say they understand the intent behind the laws but believe that gun owners should have a right to make their case first.
“It’s important for gun owners to have the opportunity to put up their own defense before losing their Second Amendment rights,” the NRA said in a statement on its website.
When Connecticut legislators wanted to strengthen that state’s law and make it similar to California’s law, the NRA argued that the proposal had “low evidentiary standards” and allowed “doctors and family members, including even distant relatives, ex-husbands or ex-wives, to strip” gun owners of their rights. The Connecticut proposal eventually failed, but other states are considering similar legislation.
Would you support a California-type law in your state? Share your thoughts in the section below: