Asm. Phil Ting couldn’t get it done in 2016, but he took political advantage of a tragedy to run a massive expansion of California’s Gun Violence Restraining Order law through the Assembly on Monday.
GVRO’s have received a lot of (unwarranted) love from Republicans and conservatives this year who are sick of being labeled murderers by the Shannon Watts/Alyssa Milano crowd. California has had a GVRO law on the books for years, but nothing ever goes far enough for these people.
In 2016 Ting sponsored AB-2607, which would have expanded the categories of who could apply for a GVRO to include any employer, co-worker, school employee, and any “mental health worker” who had seen or worked with a person in the prior six months. This year’s version simply deletes mental health workers from the list (because mental health professionals were hugely opposed to and helped defeat AB-2607) and recycles the same pile of steaming turd.
We all want to make sure our children can attend schools where they’re focused on learning and not making sure they’re not the target of a school shooter. But let’s take a good, hard look at what the unintended consequences – beside glaring due process issues – of this bill could be.
Any of your co-workers could initiate a secret court hearing – which you would have no notice of – in which your fundamental rights could be stripped. That ups the ante for inter-office squabbles quite a bit, don’t you think?
If you’re a college student on a sprawling campus, any “school employee” could petition a judge to strip you of your right to self-defense. Guess what? Residential advisors in dormitories are school employees. Other students who work in the library or the campus cafeteria are school employees. If you subscribe to what one of them terms “hateful” political thought, they could convince a judge that you are too unstable to own a firearm.
Also, as I said about this bill back in 2016, on school campuses and in workplaces, such legislation could have a chilling effect. If a professor knows their student has a firearm, and the student then talks about having a difficult time after a breakup or failed exam, will that professor feel obligated to seek a GVRO against the student?
AB-2888 doesn’t set out any evidentiary standard for taking away a person’s rights. It simply says the judge must find a “substantial likelihood” that the person poses a danger to themselves or others in the “near future,” and that less restrictive measures have either been tried and found ineffective or “are inadequate or inappropriate for the circumstances.”
In order to assuage civil rights concerns the bill’s authors claim that language would prevent abuses, but they’re not kidding anyone. This is the same state whose Attorney General claims their sanctuary laws are not in conflict with federal law and whose elected officials believe people who hold differing political beliefs are “dangerous.” (Looking at you, Ted Lieu, Maxine Waters, Kamala Harris… well, damn, the list goes on and on.) We all know that “inappropriate for the circumstances” can be interpreted a number of ways, none of which end well for conservatives.
The most disgusting portion of Monday’s hearing was Asm. Ting’s co-opting of Friday’s school shooting in Texas.
“I really do ask that we don’t just send thoughts and prayers, but that we send some action to students, to families who really are scratching their heads and asking what we can do to stem the violence in our schools.”
Ting also made a completely idiotic and false argument about the Parkland shooting.
[Ting commented that] if school officials, family members or police could have requested a restraining order against the Parkland shooter, who had demonstrated violent warning signs, he might not have been able to legally possess a firearm.
Asm. Ting, family members and police COULD HAVE requested a restraining order against the Parkland shooter! Yes, he demonstrated violent warning signs, which were IGNORED by school officials and the police on over 40 occasions. What would your bill have changed about the cowardice of the Broward County Schools and the Broward County Sheriff’s Department?
Regarding the Texas shooting, though, a bill like AB-2888 wouldn’t have done a damn thing to prevent what happened there, as Asm. Melissa Melendez said.
“That young man, not only did he take weapons that were not his own, that were not registered to him, he was not even old enough to have them. I just think it’s inappropriate to use that scenario as a reason for this bill.”
Democrat supporters called it “a logical expansion of the restraining order program” and Ting “conceded that his draconian bill won’t actually prevent gun violence and said AB 2888 is ‘just a piece of the puzzle.’ He said it could take 20 or 30 more bills to secure the kind of change Democrats want.”
The bill would have passed the Assembly even without Republican votes, but two squishy Republicans supported it as well. It now heads to the Senate, where it will likely pass. The only hope to kill it lies with Gov. Jerry Brown, who vetoed Ting’s 2016 version of this same horrific piece of legislation.