California Governor Gavin Newsom kept himself busy yesterday by signing a new red flag gun control bill into law. (This was only one of fifteen new gun control laws.) The strange part of this story is that the Golden State already had a red flag law on the books, similar to those in sixteen other states and the District of Columbia. But now they’re going much further. Previously, requests to have people’s firearms preemptively seized could only be issued by law enforcement or immediate family members. But starting January 1st, a whole bunch of other people will be able to drop a dime on you and have your weapons taken away until you can prove you’re not dangerous. (Associated Press)
California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Friday signed a law that will make the state the first to allow employers, co-workers and teachers to seek gun violence restraining orders against other people.”
They were among 15 gun-related laws Newsom approved as the state strengthens what the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence calls the nation’s toughest restrictions.
“California has outperformed the rest of the nation, because of our gun safety laws, in reducing the gun murder rate substantially compared to the national reduction,” Newsom said as he signed the measures surrounded by state lawmakers. “No state does it as well or comprehensively as the state of California, and we still have a long way to go.”
This is the third time the legislature passed this bill, but the previous two versions were vetoed by Jerry Brown. (And if your law is too radically far to the left for Jerry Brown to approve it, you might want to pause and consider what you’re doing.) This time, however, they managed to ram it through.
Not only was this bill too much for the last governor to swallow, but it was also opposed by the ACLU. They described the bill as one that “poses a significant threat to civil liberties.” They also expressed concerns that confiscation orders could be requested by people who lack the appropriate relationships with the gun owner and skills to make an accurate assessment of the potential threat they pose.
The law contains some language meant to alleviate those concerns, but it’s too vague to be really useful. People making reports are supposed to have “substantial and regular interactions” with the gun owner before making such a request, but who will decide how substantial that relationship is?
As with most of these red flag laws, the possibility exists that someone could actually identify a deranged or dangerous person and potentially prevent a tragedy. But these measures open the door for some angry coworker or ticked off ex-girlfriend or boyfriend to pick up the phone and send the cops over to confiscate your firearms. And then you’re in the position of having to prove your sanity and temperament in front of a judge before possibly having them returned. It’s just ripe for abuse.
Newsom also signed a measure limiting residents to one gun purchase per month. What that’s supposed to accomplish remains something of a mystery. If you’re looking to prevent impulse purchases by angry people there’s already a significant waiting period. And if they intend to harm someone, you may have limited the number of weapons available to them, but they’ve still got a gun.
California is an excellent example of why supporters of the Second Amendment constantly fret over slippery slopes. As soon as you open the door to one restriction, they begin chipping away at your rights incrementally. And at this point, the Second Amendment in California is already significantly hollowed out.
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