California lawmakers vote to expand gun restraining orders — but ACLU says bill goes too far
California, and a handful of other states, have laws that allow family members, roommates, and law enforcement to request a restraining order to remove firearms from an individual who has shown signs of dangerous behavior.
ACLU, Republicans join in opposition
But the American Civil Liberties Union, rarely a conservative ally, says the bill goes too far, and joined some California Republicans in expressing concern over the measure.
The ACLU said in a statement that measures restricting those with mental health issues from buying or owning a gun “are too often not evidence-based, reinforce negative stereotypes, and raise significant equal protection, due process, and privacy issues.”
“It is not hard to imagine a scenario in which someone might harbor a bias of an irrational fear of a coworker based on that coworker belonging to some minority group that the person dislikes or distrusts,” ACLU advocate Lizzie Bunchen wrote, according to KCRA-TV. “The person subjected to the restraining order is not informed of the court proceeding and therefore has no opportunity to contest the allegations.”
That position aligns the ACLU with gun rights advocacy groups like the Firearm Policy Coalition, which supports the general idea behind the bill but has concerns about civil liberties.
“It is very dangerous when you go after someone’s liberty for some perceived security,” the FPC’s Craig DeLuz said, KCRA reported. “We want to do what we can to make sure we keep firearms out of the hands of individuals who can potentially be a danger to themselves or others. But in any case, we must always be careful of violating civil liberties.”
The sponsor defends his bill
Democratic Assemblyman Phil Ting, who sponsored the bill, said the expansion is necessary to cover adults who don’t have connections with family and who live alone.
“Once you move away from home and you’re an adult, you may not spend time with your family,” Ting told the Huffington Post. “You may not have much interaction with law enforcement, but chances are if you’re working, you see your co-workers every day for eight-plus hours a day, and you’re with them not just in the work environment but socially.”
The bill passed the state Assembly 48-25, and will now head to the Senate.