A new California law will allow concerned family members to request the government to seize firearms from a relative they believe to be a threat. How will this law affect you and your right to bear arms? San Diego criminal defense attorney Peter M. Liss explains.
First, it’s important to recognize that there are already existing laws that prevent certain individuals from possessing firearms. For example, if you are convicted of a felony or certain misdemeanors (most notably, domestic violence), you will lose the right to gun ownership. This is a governmental effort to ensure those most inclined to use guns in an illegal way cannot legally possess them. If you aren’t sure which crimes will result in your losing the right to carry a gun, please call your San Diego criminal lawyer.
The point of the new law is to allow the people that are closest to someone to preemptively speak up and hopefully help stop a crime by getting their loved one away from guns. The process requires the family members to appear before a judge and request an order for the person in question to surrender their guns to the authorities. The law also allows law enforcement officials to request an order although they will obviously have a different insight from family members of a disturbed individual. The people who seek the order would be required to sign an affidavit and could be charged with a misdemeanor if they are found to be lying later on.
If the judge finds there is reason to prohibit someone from possessing their weapons, the law provides for up to a 21 day restraining order prohibiting the possession or ownership of firearms and ammunition. After that time, there will be a second hearing, at which a judge can decide to make the restraining order valid for one year.
Proponents of the law hope that it will prevent suicides, murders, domestic violence cases and other crimes that involve firearms while opponents believe it could infringe on someone’s right to own a firearm simply because of a misunderstanding or emotional situation between family members. While both sides have valid points, San Diego criminal lawyers point out that many people’s family members are unaware whether or not they possess weapons, and that if someone cannot legally possess a firearm, they still may find access to one through other means.
If you have any questions about the legality of your firearms, a San Diego defense attorney can help answer them. Please call (760) 643-4050 or (858) 486-3024 to schedule a free initial consultation.
Creative Commons Image by Greta Ceresini