Whenever conservatives oppose a gun control law, we are mocked in the media for our delusions that “they’re cummin’ for yer guns!” Mother Jones included this in their list of ten gun control myths (that weren’t really myths).
Yesterday California Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill that strips people of their Second Amendment rights based on claims that they pose a danger to themselves or others. Under AB 1014, a cop or “an immediate family member”—which includes not just spouses, children, siblings, and parents but also in-laws and roommates, both current and former—can seek a “gun violence restraining order” that prohibits an individual from possessing firearms and authorizes police to seize any he currently owns. Such an order can initially be obtained without any notice or adversarial process.
The guns will be taken away for three weeks after which the petitioner will have to convince a judge by “clear and convincing evidence” — not “beyond a reasonable doubt” — that he can’t be trusted with guns. After that, a one-year restraining order is issued that can be renewed every year. I’m sure this will work out as well as asset forfeiture has.
I’ll give you three guesses as to why this law was passed:
Assembly Bill 1014, by Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley, was the Legislature’s central response to the lethal shooting in May near the University of California, Santa Barbara. It will allow family members of someone who is displaying signs of mental instability to request a court order temporarily barring gun use and purchase.
Families of people killed in Isla Vista had lobbied for the bill at the Capitol, and Skinner cheered Brown’s action Tuesday.
As I have said any time a mass shooting occurs, these events are are rare and any legislation designed to prevent them is unlikely to do so. Law passed in the wake of a mass shooting — or any mass tragedy — are almost always laws that some interest group has wanted for years and finally has an opportunity to ram through. Whether it’s grabbing guns, arming teachers or locking down schools, it’s simple political opportunism.
(Another provision requires toy guns sold in California to be brightly colored because of incidents in which cops have shot kids carrying toy guns. Because God forbid we should train cops not to shoot first and ask questions later.)
It’s not unreasonable to take away the guns of someone who is mentally unstable. The problem is that the standard here has been set pretty low. Cops have to have “reasonable cause” to get a judge to issue the order. But our system defers to cops’ judgement in almost every circumstance. Judges have routinely issued warrants for violent no-knock raids based on the ramblings of drug addicts and the justifications of criminals. Juries refuse to indict cops who gun down unarmed people on video. Unions and politicians rally behind cops even when bad behavior is proven and quietly pay millions to cover up abuse rather than deal with it. If a judge will let police launch a SWAT raid because a meth addict says someone is dealing; if they’ll excuse the resulting bloodshed because the cops “acted in good faith”; if prosecutors and juries will refuse to punish cops even when abuse is proven … why on Earth would anyone stop cops from grabbing someone’s guns if they claim an Isla Vista rampage is imminent?
This is the problem with how people approach infringements on our liberty. They see what they want — guns being taken away from crazy people — and miss what’s actually going to happen: the law will be given yet another tool with which to attack our basic freedom.
In fact, this point is so obvious, you have to wonder if that’s the point. Remember that the gun grabbers want a society in which no one is allowed to have a gun unless they can justify it to the government. It’s not that hard to see the infrastructure being put in place for such a society. They only need a couple more seats on the Supreme Court to make it happen.