Pause for Safety Act Worries Us

U.S. Law Shield and Texas Law Shield see problems with the outlines of a new gun-control initiative proposed by California Democratic senators  Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein.

The pair, along with a California Democrat from the House, Rep. Lois Capps, recently proposed the Pause for Safety Act. The bill would encourage states to allow people to seek “gun violence prevention orders” from courts, which would let courts temporarily block the purchase of firearms for people who could pose a threat.

Courts would also be allowed to issue “gun violence prevention warrants,” which would let police temporarily seize firearms held by people who are potentially dangerous. The “Pause” legislation would provide new federal grants to states that take these steps.

Boxer said, “It is haunting to me that the family of the gunman was desperate to prevent an act of violence and alerted police, but they were still unable to stop this tragedy. When the people who know someone best fear there is a threat of violence, they should be able to go to court — with due process for everyone involved — to help prevent a tragedy.”

Senator Boxer must not be familiar with California state laws. The police who interviewed Elliot Rodger the day before his killing spree had two mental-health statutes available to them that could have stopped him, but because they didn’t assess Rodger’s state of mind correctly, they let him go without confiscating his guns.

In California, a number of medical professionals, as well as any police officer, can take a person into custody for a 72-hour mental-health evaluation, under Welfare & Institutions Code § 5150.

If the hospital evaluating that person decides that he is indeed mentally ill, he can be held for an additional fourteen days for “intensive treatment” under § 5250.

“We must do everything in our power to keep firearms out of the hands of those who pose a serious risk of harm to themselves or to others,” Feinstein added.

But while the Rodgers case involved a warning from Rodgers parents, Boxer said the bill is aimed at allowing anyone to seek court restrictions on other people’s gun ownership rights.

In our view, that provision has the potential to get nearly anyone’s guns taken away for what could be spurious reasons. And, as always, there will be a legal fight to get confiscated guns back, which will be expensive and time consuming, even if the authorities are wrong.

Do you trust Boxer and Feinstein to write any gun legislation — but especially rules allowing gun confiscation?