Here’s how so-called ‘Red Flag Laws,’ which violate individuals’ constitutional rights have been expanded in California:
The California legislature, always on the vanguard of draconian and superfluous laws, is expanding its so-called red-flag law to include employers’ ability to seek an order for law enforcement to confiscate the weapons of citizens who have committed no crime.
There are at least 17 “state laws that authorize courts to issue a special type of protection order, allowing the police to temporarily confiscate firearms from people who are deemed by a judge to be a danger to themselves or to others,” reported the New York Times last year.
Despite the fact that red flag laws eviscerate five out of ten of the rights contained in the U.S. Constitution’s Bill of Rights, red flag laws are expanding.
“As red flag laws proliferate, the role of employers in the application process for gun violence protection orders is likely to expand,” write attorneys with the Littler law firm.
California’s Assembly Bill 61 is a good example. The law, which will take effect on September 1, 2020, significantly expands California’s existing red flag law. Currently, the law permits a court, upon application by law enforcement or immediate family members of the subject of the application, to issue an ex parte gun violence restraining order (GVRO) prohibiting the subject of the petition from possessing a firearm. The petitioner must show a substantial likelihood that the subject poses a significant danger of harming his or herself or another person in the near future, and that the GVRO is necessary to prevent personal injury. The GVRO generally expires after 21 days, unless the petitioner can show at an evidentiary hearing by clear and convincing evidence that the subject of the petition continues to pose a significant danger. The GVRO then may be extended by three-month intervals, with the same evidentiary showing required after each three-month period.
The new law significantly adds to the framework of the existing law. Significantly, it broadens the classes of individuals who may apply for a GVRO to include employers, and (under certain circumstances) coworkers and teachers. The grounds and basis for seeking the GVRO vary slightly by the classification of the petitioner. For instance, coworkers must have had regular interactions with the subject for at least one year and obtained the approval of their employer before seeking the GVRO. Teachers must have worked at the school attended by the subject of the GVRO in the last six months and also must obtain the approval of a school administrator.
In essence, California’s amended red flag law significantly expands the employer’s role in the GVRO process. Employers are now empowered to seek a GVRO directly, and even where a teacher or coworker seeks a GVRO, they may only do so with their employer’s blessing. California is the first state to enact a red flag law that provides employers with such a central role in the GVRO application process.
Although it was not in the Top 10 causes of death in California, the Center for Disease Control puts gun-related deaths at 3,184 in 2017—the most recent year the CDC has data published.
“If we only save one life or 10 lives, those are people absolutely worth saving,” stated Assemblyman Phil Ting, D-San Francisco, last year.
Ting has been one of the main proponents of expanding California’s red-flag law to the workplace.
There is no record on his website, however, of Mr. Ting proposing legislation to address the Top 10 causes of deaths in California.
Prior to California’s Governor Newsom signing the bill, former Governor Jerry Brown had vetoed it, stating it was “unnecessary.”
“The measure was also opposed by the American Civil Liberties Union of California, which says it ‘poses a significant threat to civil liberties by expanding the authorization to seek ex parte orders, with all the ensuing consequences, without an opportunity for the person to be heard or contest the matter,’” reported the Los Angeles Times last year.
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