Today, I took simple, decisive and timely action in defense of Californians' rights to bear arms (2nd Amendment to the U.S. Constitution) and Due Process (5th Amendment, extended to the states under the 14th Amendment). I will explain.
On Tuesday, March 17, the California State Assembly Committee on Public Safety will meet and hear Assembly Bill (AB) 225, which would make filing a false Gun Violence Restraining Order (GVRO) a felony punishable by imprisonment in county jail for two to four years. The intent of AB 225 is to correct flaws in AB 1014, enacted into California law in 2014. AB 1014 authorizes a law enforcement officer or immediate family member of a person to seek, and a court to issue, a GVRO. With good intention, AB 1014 was enacted following a senseless, and likely, preventable, fatal shooting incident by a disturbed man in his early 20s near the campus of University of California, Santa Barbara.
AB 1014 provides a tool to law enforcement and families to prevent illegal use of firearms by persons known to be "at risk," either to themselves, or to others. I agree with the intent of AB 1014. However, AB 1014, as written, treads on perilous ground, from the standpoint of constitutionality. Prevention of illegal gun violence is serious business. So is the protection of constitutional rights. The intentional violation of any U.S. citizen's constitutional rights is an extreme offense, and ought to have extreme consequences. Filing a false GVRO opens up the possibility that innocent behavior could result in a denial of constitutional rights for individuals who pose no threat to themselves, nor to society.
Today, I telephoned (yeah, old-school, but, at least my service is VoIP) the Sacramento offices of the seven members of the Assembly Committee on Public Safety, including the office of AB 225's sponsor (Melissa Melendez, Republican), to express my support for AB 225. Easy-peasy, Japaneasy (relax, I am quoting The Shawshank Redemption, in which the protagonist is jailed, presumably for life, for a crime he did not commit).
AB 1014 has the right idea. AB 225 tightens up the language.