Following a string of mass shootings in August, California lawmakers have been pushing a number of bills that would further restrict gun ownership and usage in the state.
With a Democratic supermajority and Governor Gavin Newsom’s more hardline stance on gun control than his predecessor, Jerry Brown, the likelihood of these bills passing are believed to be high.
Last month, Newsom called Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell “weak” and a “coward” at a roundtable discussion for not taking action on gun control legislation.
The Epoch Times spoke with Rick Travis, executive director of the California Rifle and Pistol Association (CRPA), about the legislation and their possible effects on California residents. Travis said AB 12 and 61 are especially concerning for gun owners in the state.
AB 12, introduced by Assemblywoman Jacqui Irwin (D-Thousand Oaks), would increase the duration of gun violence restraining orders, which let a court forcibly remove a person’s weapons, from the current cap of one year to up to five years.
AB 61, introduced by Assemblyman Phil Ting (D-San Francisco), would allow teachers, other school staff, employers, and coworkers to request firearms be removed from a dangerous individual. The law now gives that ability to only family members and police officers.
“If I ask an average college student if they’ve ever upset a professor, a staffer, a secretary in the dean’s office, the answer is going to be yes,” said Travis.
“With this [legislation], they could go, ‘Oh, you know what he was a little a little hot headed’ or ‘she looked a little loopy today, I want a gun violence restraining order,’ and they don’t even have to appear [in court]. … This is giving an open deal to anybody to complain about anything.”
Travis said his main concerns are how easy it is for someone for file a gun violence restraining order (GVRO) and its effects on gun owners in the state.
“When GVRO’s first came out there were [concerning] cases in several parts of the state. The idea behind this is to stop the truly mentally ill from being able to [possess firearms], but it’s written so poorly that it allows it to be used by people [against each other]. Once you get a GVRO, it stays on your record for life, and it doesn’t matter whether it was done under false pretenses, it’s there.”
Another bill introduced by Assemblywoman Laura Friedman (D-Glendale), AB 276, would require a person who is 18 years of age or older to ensure their firearms are securely stored against theft while outside the residence.
“When news of another shooting breaks, we have a responsibility to ask not just why such a crime occurred, but how the person in question obtained their weapon,” said Amanda Wilcox, legislation and policy chair for the California chapters of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, in a statement in support of the bill. “Far too often, it’s because a gun was stolen from someone’s home after it was left unsecured.”
A violation of the requirements in AB 276 would incur a fine of between $250 and $1,000. In addition, the bill would prohibit a person convicted of improper storage of firearms from “owning, purchasing, receiving, or having in their possession or control, any firearm within 10 years of the conviction.”
Travis argued that this law was not likely to change crime rates, but would harm law-abiding citizens by increasing rules and regulations, hampering their ability to defend themselves in the future.
Other recent California bills would limit gun purchases to one per month, charge an additional $25 tax on gun sales to fund violence intervention programs, and require warning labels on guns and inside gun shops regarding suicide risk and safe storage instructions.
When asked about the possibility of these laws being passed in a Democratic-controlled legislature with a Democratic governor, Travis said he believes Newsom will sign the bills into law.
“Had you asked this question a year ago when Governor Brown was in, I would say maybe two of these [bills] would make it, because even though Governor Brown could be considered very much to the left, he was a lawyer, former prosecutor. … Many of these bills he vetoed more than once.”
Travis also said California’s courts will likely continue to have a role in changing gun laws in the state.
“We have a very good track record when you go and look at the number of lawsuits we launched and successfully got through the court system. [We’ve] gotten either stays or actual decisions that changed [legislation],” he said.
The CRPA works to “defend the civil and constitutional rights of individuals to choose to responsibly own and use firearms,” with political advocates and its own legal team, according to the nonprofit’s website.
“This isn’t just about the second amendment,” Travis added. “This is about many people in government wanting to limit the rights of the first amendment. In areas of the world where there is no second amendment, the press doesn’t have a lot of freedom. If this concept of moving towards a socialist government is such a good idea, then explain to me why former Eastern Bloc countries have put in their own versions of the second amendment since becoming free?”