The parallel between mental illnesses and mass shootings has been drawn numerous times.
Though the topic itself is highly contentious, it seems lawmakers in California don’t want to take any more chances as they are taking steps to ask judges to temporarily strip gun rights from individuals who are believed to pose a danger to themselves and others.
The State Assembly recently passed a bill that will authorize employers, co-workers and school personnel to request a judicial order to temporarily confiscate weapons from potentially dangerous gun owners.
The legislation is an extension of a current state’s “red flag” law, which was passed in 2014 when 22-year-old Elliot Rodger killed six people and left more than a dozen injured before killing himself near University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB).
Eight months after the rampage in Isla Vista, an investigative report revealed his history of mental illness, his inability to make friends, and his disdain for women.
Under the existing law, family members, roommates and law enforcement officers can petition for the protective orders for individuals who have displayed dangerous behavior. Authorities then hold a hearing to determine if the owner of the gun needs to surrender their firearms and stay away from it for a year.
The restraining order can be extended beyond a year if any additional evidence surfaces.
However, the new bill would expand the list of people who can file such restraining orders. Now, the subject’s employees and co-workers can request gun violence restraining orders against people who show warning signs of violence.
“We’re grappling with this issue of gun violence as a nation,” bill sponsor lawmaker Phil Ting (D) told HuffPost. “I’ve never said this is a panacea, but it’s just one of many solutions we have to offer.”
According to Ting, around 200 restraining orders have been issued to the state’s court ever since the law came into effect in 2016.
“Once you move away from home and you’re an adult, you may not spend time with your family,” explained Ting. “You may not have much interaction with law enforcement, but chances are if you’re working, you see your co-workers every day for eight-plus hours a day, and you’re with them not just in the work environment but socially.”
The state’s attempt to put in place additional measures to keep troubling behavior in check has widespread support from gun control advocates.
Amanda Wilcox, legislative chair of the California chapters of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, pointed out the law in effect was not being properly used as opponents thought it would be.
“The standards of proof are high in the law,” she said. “It probably needs to be used more, but also under the law it’s supposed to be a last resort if there’s not another way to remove the guns.”
“What I don’t want is a case where it could have been used and should have been used and wasn’t, and someone is dead because of that,” she added.
In the wake of the tragic school shootings that have plagued the country since the beginning of this year, it just makes sense to take such preliminary measures.
Moreover, considering the fact Nikolas Cruz, the man responsible for killing 17 individuals at a Parkland, Florida, high school, displayed signs of mental instability, was even expelled from school for bad and erratic behavior and yet the authorities didn’t act on any tip-offs– leaves a huge question whether the massacre could have been prevented if people around him had done something about it?
Likewise, 17-year-old son Dimitrios Pagourtzis, the Santa Fe school shooter, was named as a “victim” by his father as he was reportedly bullied in school.
Though such measures don’t eradicate the issue from its root, it is definitely better than sitting hand in hand, waiting for another tragedy.
Banner Image Credits: REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton