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Tipsheet

Serious Infringement: California Legislature Sends Bill Expanding Red Flag Laws To Gov. Newsom

AP Photo/Jeff Chiu

The California Assembly on Monday sent a bill to Gov. Gavin Newsom's (D) desk. The bill would expand Extreme Risk Protection Orders (ERPos), commonly referred to as red flag laws. As it currently stands, family members and law enforcement officials are able to petition the court to take away a person's firearms. The bill heading to Newsom's desk, if signed, would now allow employers, co-workers, and high school and college teachers and administrations to also petition a court, the Los Angeles Times reported.

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The bill was brought about by Assemblyman Phil Ting (D-San Francisco) following the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland Florida last year. 

"There’s no question in my mind that California’s Gun Violence Restraining Order law is a powerful tool that helps save lives,” Ting told the Times. “With school and workplace shootings on the rise, it’s common sense to give the people we see every day a way to prevent tragedies.”

The bill would go into effect in September 2020, assuming Newsom signs it. 

Both Newsom and former Gov. Jerry Brown (D) have been strong supporters of expanding ERPOs.

“There are a number of legislative efforts upstairs that I look forward to getting [on my desk] downstairs to expand the scope of the red flag laws,” Newsom said in June.

“All of the persons named in this bill can seek a gun violence restraining order today under existing law by simply working through law enforcement or the immediate family of the concerning individual,” Brown said last year. “I think law enforcement professionals and those closest to a family member are best situated to make these especially consequential decisions.”

The bill was opposed by the California Rifle and Pistol Association, the National Rifle Association and the American Civil Liberties Union of California.

Red flags are dangerous to begin with because of the lack of due process. In most cases, people's firearms are taken without any kind of hearing where they're able to defend themselves. Now pretty much anyone could file a petition to have someone's guns taken away, even when it's not warranted. And there seems to be no penalties established for those who abuse the so-called system. How do we know that ex-boyfriends or girlfriends aren't going to use the ERPO process as a form of retaliation? How do we know that they're not going to make false claims? 

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Then there's the issue of false identity, like what happened to a Florida man who had the same name as a guy who harassed a woman. He had his firearms confiscated and then he had to pay thousands of dollars to fight the charges in court. At the end of the day they had the wrong person and this guy was out thousands...for simply having the same name as a wacko.

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