New laws relating to gun ownership have taken effect in 2016 including Senate Bill 707 and Assembly Bill 1014 which was signed into law by Governor Brown. These new gun laws are an effort to further tighten California firearms restrictions even as California’s are among the strictest in the nation.
Senate Bill 707 amended parts of the Gun-Free School Zone Act of 1995 which previously allowed persons with a valid concealed carry permit to be exempt from firearm bans on public or private school campuses. Senate Bill 707, however, eliminates this exemption, except for certain retired peace officers. Violating Senate Bill 707 by taking a gun onto a school campus is now punishable by up to five years in state prison.
Assembly Bill 1014 is also known as the gun violence restraining order law. This law allows law enforcement officers to seize firearms from individuals who may pose a threat to themselves or to others. If a family member, or law enforcement officer, asks the court to issue a Gun Violence Restraining Order again an individual that person could be banned from possessing a firearm for up to one year depending on the circumstances of the case.
Concealed Weapons Banned on School Campuses
At the time of passing Senate Bill 707 current California law made it illegal to possess a firearm within 1,000 feet of a school, or on a college campus, without permission from administrators while those with concealed carry permits were considered exempt. With the passing of Senate Bill 707 the prohibition is expanded on school and college grounds to include concealed weapons while also maintaining the 1,000-foot zone surrounding schools. Active and certain retired law enforcement officers are not covered by the law.
With the passing of Senate Bill 707 California joins nineteen other states that have banned carrying concealed weapons on campus. Senate Bill 707 will require concealed carry license holders to obtain written permission from school officials before they are allowed to carry firearms or ammunition onto campus, except in cases where ammunition is kept within a locked container or within the locked trunk of a vehicle. The goal is to allow school officials to maintain a safer campus environment by allowing them more control over who is given permission to carry firearms and ammunition onto school property.
Many considered the prior exemption for concealed carry permit holders to be a dangerous loophole in California’s Gun-Free School Zone Act.
Gun Violence Restraining Orders
Assembly Bill 1014 is perhaps the most groundbreaking of the new 2016 gun laws.
Gun Violence Restraining Orders allow people to obtain a 21-day restraining order barring a family member from owning guns if it is believed they are in danger of committing a violent act either to themselves or to others. This means that if a person is concerned about the mental state of a family member they can request that police investigate the claim. After investigation the law enforcement officer would submit the petition for a temporary restraining order to the court. If the court finds evidence to support the claim and grants the restraining order the police will require the subject of the restraining order to surrender any guns and ammunition they already have.
After the 21 days have passed the court will hold a hearing with the goal of determining whether a new year-long restraining order should be put into effect.
Assembly Bill 2014 was inspired by the Isla Vista shooting in 2014 in which Elliot Rogers stabbed three people to death in his apartment, killed six and injured 14 in a series of drive-by shootings, and ultimately took his own life. A month before the killings Roger’s mother went to mental health professionals regarding violent YouTube videos that her son had posted. Despite the efforts of law enforcement to check on Elliot they were unable to determine whether he was a danger to himself or to others.
While it is widely acknowledged that those intent on causing harm could potentially still get their hands on weapons this law also helps enable individuals to seek help if they feel a family member is at risk. The law also takes steps to prevent false claims by classifying them as a misdemeanor to help protect law-abiding citizens from being falsely accused.