Wednesday, June 4, 2014

California's Latest Assault On Your Rights

Under AB 1014, Your Guns Can be seized, Your Home, Car and Office Searched On Nothing But Hearsay - And Weeks, Months or Years Before You Get Your Day In Court.

If you thought that California legislators are really interested in learning from the Isla Vista rampage near UC Santa Barbara - think again.  Even though the failure was ENTIRELY that of the mental health system - and people were killed and severely injured with knives, cars and guns - and even though a simple field commitment would have cost him his guns. California Dems are focusing 100% on more gun laws.

In a response typical of the gun control movement - and even though anyone under a restraining order is already banned from owning or even touching a gun - California legislators are proposing a new - and completely unnecessary "gun violence restraining order".

Under current law, anyone who is the subject of a restraining order is already forbidden to own, possess or even touch a firearm.  The same is true of anyone who has been committed for mental health care.  In fact, anyone sent in for a 72 hour mental health evaluation - commonly known as a 5150 hold - looses all gun rights for five years EVEN IF THEY ARE RELEASED IMMEDIATELY because the concerns are determined to be completely unfounded.  Having spent 10 years in EMS and having transported well over a thousand people on these holds, I can tell you that it doesn't take much to get placed on one.  

Yet because the police failed to do anything even close to a simple and complete investigation, this didn't happen I the Isla Vista incident and so far we have six murders - three killed with knives and three killed with guns.  Shouldn't we take action aimed at preventing all such deaths, not just murders committed with guns?  Shouldn't we focus upon getting the mentally unstable the help they need as well as preventing them from legally buying or owning guns?  THE TRUTH IS, WE ALREADY HAVE ALL THE LAWS WE NEED TO DO THAT - WE JUST NEED TO USE THEM.

Yet for some reason, the Democrats in Sacramento seem to only care about those killed with guns.  If they cared about the people killed and assaulted with both guns and knives, as well as those struck by the murderer's car, they would do something about mental health.  They could provide for better training for police officers so that they can do a better job of determining who needs to be sent in on a hold.  The failure of police officers to recognize the mentally ill and send them in for evaluation was the primary factor in the Giffords shooting, the Navy Yard shooting and several other high profile shootings as well.  Why is this not being addressed?  Why is the first move always to go after guns - even in states like California where virtually every item on the gun control wish list is already the law?

Could it be that those who want guns to be banned are afraid that if any action is taken on other fronts - such as mental health and better security - that fewer of these incidents would take place?  Are they concerned that it then might be harder to pass even more restrictive gun laws?  One has to wonder.

So how bad is it?  What would this bill do?

1) Anyone, EVEN IF THEY DON'T KNOW YOU, can simply say that they believe you are a threat to yourself, or others.  Absolutely no evidence of any kind is required - simply a statement that they feel threatened will do fine.  Anyone could read a pro-gun rights post online, or see pictures you have posted on Facebook, see an NRA sticker on your car, or see you bringing guns home from the range.  Your anti-gun rights neighbor could see you unloading your cased guns and "feel threatened" simply because you own them.  His or her feelings would be all that was needed to get one of these new "firearms restraining orders". 

As Brandon Combs, president of CAL-FFL pointed out,  "There’s no criminal or civil penalty for filing false or vexatious reports and no provision for the recovery of damages and someone’s loss of rights. AB 1014 would make it open season on California gun owners.”

My experience tells me that very few of these requests will be turned down by judges - because the "safe" thing to do is grant them all.  No judge will want to be the person who failed to issue such an order - and have the subject then shoot someone.

What might support the court’s issuance of a “Gun Violence Restraining Order” under AB 1014? How about this: “recent acquisition of firearms or other deadly weapons.” Just to make sure you’re getting this, let’s recap: if AB 1014 becomes law, exercising your Second Amendment rights is evidence that you shouldn’t have them. Yes, it’s that ridiculous.

2) Government would then be required to seize all of your firearms and you would be forbidden to ever own firearms again.

3) You do get a hearing - but government has two weeks to even schedule it.  There is no requirement that it be held promptly.  If there are many asking for hearings - if, for example, anti-gun rights groups are encouraging people to file for such orders against their gun owning neighbors - you might have to wait months to years.

4) Eventually, if you can afford a good lawyer, a good psychiatrist (who is willing to risk saying you are not a threat - good luck with that), an investigator and other expert witnesses you MIGHT be able to PROVE that you can be trusted with guns.  THAT'S RIGHT - BECAUSE THIS IS A "CIVIL MATTER" THE BURDEN OF PROOF IS ON YOU TO PROVE THAT YOU ARE NOT A THREAT - YOU HAVE NO PRESUMPTION OF INNOCENCE, AND "REASONABLE DOUBT" IS NOT ENOUGH FOR YOU TO WIN .

5) If you are a poor person, or even middle class, you won't be able to afford to even try to keep your gun rights.  A mere, unfounded accusation by someone you may not even know, by someone you probably will not even be able to learn the identity of without hiring a lawyer, WILL RESULT IN YOU LOOSING YOUR GUN RIGHTS FOR LIFE.

What is the real purpose of this special restraining order?  After all, those committed or even sent in for mental health evaluation, are already forbidden to own firearms - as is anyone who is the subject of a restraining order.  So, if this is the case, again: What is the REAL purpose of this proposed law?

The only possible motivation for such a law is to create as many "prohibited persons" as possible - by providing a path to do so with even fewer safeguards than either the mental health laws or those regarding conventional restraining orders.  (Which are already being abused.)  In other words, it exists for the sole purpose of depriving people of their constitutional rights with  little evidence or cause - in fact, mere hearsay would be enough.

This bill will also have a chilling effect upon free speech.  How?  Simple: Gun owners will become very cautious about letting people know they own guns, out of fear that someone will "feel threatened" and file for one of these orders.  They will stop posting pro-gun rights thoughts on social media sites, NRA stickers will come off of cars, and gun owners will certainly not invite others to go shooting with them.  Once again, you can be sure that this is just what the backers of this bill want.

When government begins to uses tactics like this to deprive people of their Constitutional rights, can they really be trusted to stop with the issue of guns?  Can such people be trusted with the rest of our rights?  I think not!  We need to send them a message that we won't let them do this without a fight.

All you have to do is click on the image above to be taken to the Firearms Policy Coalition AB 1014 action page.  They will send your email of opposition to your elected representatives in the state House and Senate.  They do ask for contributions - but it is not required (Just uncheck the box next to "Yes").  The most important thing is to register your opposition - that said, yes I gave them a few bucks to help the cause.

Governor Brown came through for us last year by vetoing several extreme anti-gun rights bill.  This year, he may be our best hope to stop the most radical gun bill ever: AB 1014.

Suggested email, fax, letter wording - change the words and addressee as needed:

Dear Gov. Brown,

As I am sure you are aware, in response to the Isla Vista rampage, a new and radical measure has been proposed: AB 1014.

THIS LAW IS NOT NEEDED: Given that existing law provides for firearms prohibitions any time a person is sent by police for a mental health evaluation (commonly known as a 5150), as well as anyone placed under a restraining order or order of protection, and anytime someone is committed by the courts for mental health treatment - it is hard to see the need for this law.  If someone is so much of a threat that their firearms must be seized before a hearing is ever held, WHY IN THE WORLD WOULD WE NOT SEND THEM IN FOR MENTAL HEALTH EVALUATION ON A 5150 HOLD?  Such action provides for all the firearm prohibitions AND takes them off the streets, preventing them from using an illegally obtained firearm or other weapons to harm others AND gets the person the help they need.

THIS LAW IS WRITTEN TO BE ABUSED:  Anyone could file for one of these "firearms restraining orders" simply by saying that they "feel threatened" by - for instance - the fact that their neighbor owns guns.  Few judges are going to risk denying any requests for these restraining  orders.  So, on little to nothing more than hearsay, government then descends upon them, searching their home and seizing their legally owned firearms.  A hearing does not even need to be scheduled for two weeks - and might be months away.  The average person who poses no threat will not have the funds to hire a lawyer and expert witnesses needed to prove their innocence.  They will loose their 2nd Amendment rights upon the word of one person who make or may not be correct in their assessment of their sanity.  It's very clear that this is the real goal of the legislation.

As Brandon Combs, president of CAL-FFL pointed out,  "There’s no criminal or civil penalty for filing false or vexatious reports and no provision for the recovery of damages and someone’s loss of rights. AB 1014 would make it open season on California gun owners.”

THIS LAW WILL HAVE A CHILLING EFFECT UPON FREE SPEECH: If this law passes and is signed, gun owners will begin to keep their gun ownership secret AND stop publicly speaking about gun related issues in order to avoid becoming the subject of an AB 1014 firearms restraining order.

This entire idea is a bad one in any form.  Should it reach your desk, I strongly urge a veto.


Please take a few minutes to stop this horrible bill from becoming law!  Thank you!

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