In 2014, California signed in a law which would allow the state to temporarily take citizen’s second amendment rights away, issuing extreme risk protection orders. These are to be given out in rare circumstances where a person is determined to be a threat to themselves or others if they remain armed. If served with such an order, an individual is prohibited from possessing or purchasing firearms or ammunition.
There is, of course, a major threat to constitutional rights in doing this, as it completely bypasses due process outlined in amendments five and fourteen, which allow an individual to fight for his right to bear arms before having it revoked. The California law did not start issuing protection orders until 2016, and are still relatively uncommon, though are still a threat to Americans’ rights.
San Diego issued its first extreme risk protection order last week, banning the gun rights of a thirty-nine-year-old San Carlos man for one year. The man had demonstrated extremely reckless behavior, but it is still unsettling to see how effortlessly it was for California to issue such an order.
On December 11, the man was both drunk and high off an unknown substance and was dangerously firing the weapon in his neighborhood. He reportedly shot at “trees, small animals, and into another neighbor’s yard.” Fortunately, no one was injured, but tragedy could have easily occurred. He was immediately arrested by San Diego police, a breathalyzer test revealing that he had a blood alcohol content of .25%.
Superior Court Judge Tamila Ipeme granted the protection order, and his rights were stripped. In this instance, the man likely should not have firearms, as he clearly demonstrated reckless behavior and that he does not take the damage that a gun can do seriously. However, the main problem with San Diego joining the list of counties that are issuing such orders is that other California residents can see how easy it is to strip one’s rights. The law is written so that “family members, roommates, and law enforcement” can petition to have another’s rights suspended, claiming an unsafe situation.
This essentially puts citizen’s second amendment rights in the hands of others, who may be genuinely concerned, or who could petition against another to have them disarmed and thus an easy target. Since its implementation, the law has prohibited 86 other citizens from legally bearing arms. It is difficult to determine how many people were actual threats and how such a restraining order benefited them long term.
However, gun-grabbing lawyers and lawmakers are viewing this new legislature that California now has to disarm citizens as a success and a sure way to end gun violence. San Diego City Attorney Mara Elliot has reported that the city has already “developed a process” for implementing additional protection orders, suggesting that they fully intend on there being others.
The law may be effective in some cases in getting guns out of the wrong hands, though it is not guaranteed. More importantly, it does not follow through in addressing the underlying problem that a typical arrest does by assigning the convicted a probation officer or mandating classes. Some argue that determining whether one is a danger ought to be left to mental health professionals. Unfortunately, the state law allowing citizens’ rights to be taken is a growing trend among liberal lawmakers. States such as Oregon and Washington have also implemented the law, but others are seeking to follow.
Conservatives arguing against these orders of protection are not proposing that all dangerous or unstable citizens should keep their guns, endangering others. Rather, those who do not see the second amendment as something that can be taken so easily simply wish that it would require due process in determining a person’s sentence.
The man in San Diego, for example, was undeniably guilty of “negligent discharge of a firearm,” meeting all the requirements that it was intentional, negligent, and capable of inflicting harm. This crime can result in either a misdemeanor or felony, in which case, the man would have his gun rights suspended for much longer than one year. Considering the circumstances, he may have also been sent to counseling or other rehabilitation services regarding how impaired he was. In doing this, the judicial system will make decisions based on the safety of the suspect and the community, but in a lawful way that does not feel like the state enjoys taking away the right to bear arms.
For now, as long as one is careful to stay within all firearm laws, he or she may likely retain that right. However, that could change with more states ordering extreme risk protection orders which can be proposed by other citizens under the liberal law. As seen in San Diego, California is beginning 2018 by once again leading the way in being an unfriendly state to gun owners.