California Gun Law Takes Effect January 2016, Guns to be Confiscated Without Notice- Truth! & Fiction!
Summary of eRumor:
A new gun law taking effect in California on January 1, 2016, will allow police to seize guns without prior notice.
Viral rumors about a California gun law taking effect on January 1, 2016, are both truth and fiction.
It’s true that a California gun law that goes into effect in January will allow police to seize guns from their owners for up to 21 days if a court agrees that a gun owner is a threat to themselves or others.
But reports that President Obama is behind the effort are untrue. Reports that guns could be taken without notice are also untrue, contrary to reports by Breitbart and other outlets. And the new gun violence restraining order bill (Assembly Bill 1014) has commonly been confused with California’s Armed & Prohibited Persons System (APPS), which has been on the books since 2001.
First, let’s take a look at the gun violence retraining order bill that takes effect on January 1, 2016. Under the bill, a court would be able to issue a “temporary emergency gun violence restraining order” if a law enforcement official asserts that there’s reasonable cause to believe a person poses an “immediate and present danger” to themselves or others. As written, the law would require that written notice of the order be served to the gun owner:
The bill would require a law enforcement officer to serve the order on the restrained person, if the restrained person can reasonably be located, file a copy of the order with the court, and have the order entered into the computer database system for protective and restraining orders maintained by the Department of Justice. The bill would require the presiding judge of the superior court of each county to designate at least one judge, commissioner, or referee who is required to be reasonably available to issue temporary emergency gun violence restraining orders when the court is not in session.
This bill would additionally authorize a court to issue an ex parte gun violence restraining order prohibiting the subject of the petition from having in his or her custody or control, owning, purchasing, possessing, or receiving, or attempting to purchase or receive, a firearm or ammunition when it is shown that there is a substantial likelihood that the subject of the petition poses a significant danger of harm to himself, herself, or another in the near future by having in his or her custody or control, owning, purchasing, possessing, or receiving a firearm and that the order is necessary to prevent personal injury to himself, herself, or another, as specified. The bill would require the ex parte order to expire no later than 21 days after the date on the order and would require the court to hold a hearing within 21 days of issuing the ex parte gun violence restraining order to determine if a gun violence restraining order that is in effect for one year should be issued. The bill would require a law enforcement officer or a person at least 18 years of age who is not a party to the action to personally serve the restrained person the ex parte order, if the restrained person can reasonably be located.
If a gun owner refused to surrender his weapons and ammunition voluntarily, law enforcement officials would execute a search warrant to confiscate the weapons. Then, if the gun owner were to break the temporary restraining order, he would be subject to a misdemeanor and a weapons and ammunition ban of up to five years.
The law was passed in 2014 in response to gunman Elliot Rodger’s mass shooting in Santa Barbara that left six dead and 14 wounded. In the days leading up to the rampage, Rodger’s parents had contacted law enforcement a number of times to conduct well being and mental health checks of their son after he posted disturbing videos on YouTube, according to a sheriff’s department report.
Officers didn’t find that Rodger met the criteria for involuntary mental health confinement, and released him. The stated goal of the emergency gun violence retraining order law is to give police and family members an opportunity to temporarily separate people like Rodger from their weapons when they pose an imminent threat.
Some right-wing media outlets have portrayed the law as an attempt by President Obama to start confiscating weapons, or an opportunity for police to take weapons “without notice.” Both are untrue. The California Legislature, not the federal government or President Obama passed the law. And police are required to give notice of emergency gun violence temporary restraining orders so that weapons and ammunition can (hopefully) be voluntarily surrounded.
Also, ahead of the new gun law, old reports about California’s Amerced and Prohibited Persons System (APPS) have floated to the surface. That’s led to some confusion about the scope of law taking effect on January 1.
APPS cross references databases of individuals who have legally purchased handguns and registered assault weapons since 1996 with those who are prohibited from owning weapons. The state prohibits felons, the mentally ill and some convicted of domestic violence from owning guns. The purpose of APPS is to identify those who illegally own or possess guns under the law so they can be confiscated.
So, as is often the case with claims about gun laws and gun ownership, this rumor is a combination of truth and fiction.