Monday, December 28, 2015

New California Gun Laws Take Effect in 2016

Cool picture stolen from activistpost.com

California already has some of the most complicated, restrictive gun laws in the United States. Our long list of no-nos is about to get a little longer in 2016.  Here are some of the new anti-gun laws that are slated to take effect:

Gun Violence Restraining Orders

I've previously written about Gun Violence Restraining Orders on this blog.  That post is available here.  California courts will begin issuing Gun Violence Restraining Orders on January 1, 2016.  As their name implies, GVROs will have the effect of prohibiting certain individuals from owning or possessing firearms and ammunition.  Immediate family members may petition the courts for a GVRO if they believe that a subject poses a serious danger to himself or others.  Unlike other types of restraining orders, the new law will also allow police officers to directly file petitions in civil court to strip individuals of their gun rights.  

If you've ever been involved in a restraining order case, you know just how arbitrary and capricious the process can be.  Each side usually has about 2 minutes to present their arguments to a judge, often without the assistance of an attorney.  Parties are unprepared and nervous.  They don't fully understand the issues and the rules of evidence.  Their witnesses fail to appear.  Their best evidence is inadmissible.  A judge has to make a ruling on the spot, sometimes based on a "hunch".  Starting 1/1/16, courts will have another tool for stripping your 2nd Amendment rights.  

Gun Violence Restraining Orders might save lives.  They might not.  Of course, gun violence is already illegal, but criminals don't seem to mind breaking the law.  That's what makes them criminals.  One thing is for sure: the new law will clog the courts and keep lawyers (like me) busy. It will be applied arbitrarily and it will make great blog fodder.  Stay tuned to see how it plays out.  

New Government Regulations for BB Guns and Other Toy Weapons

California will impose new rules on airsoft weapons and other toy guns in 2016.  The law will also be amended to include BB guns within the definition of "imitation firearms".  All toy guns, including BB guns, will be subject to new rules regarding their coloration.  Current federal regulations mandate that toy guns must include a distinctive, blaze orange ring around the muzzle (the opening of the barrel, commonly known as the "business end").  In addition to that requirement, BB guns and other toy guns sold in California will be required to feature blaze orange coloration around the trigger guard and the circumference of the pistol grip, or else the entire exterior surface of the toy must be brightly colored or completely transparent.  

This new rule is obviously intended to prevent cases in which police officers shoot children because they mistakenly believe that the child's toy is a real weapon.  To my knowledge, such tragedies have occurred twice in the past several years -- once in California and once in Ohio. Meanwhile, 16,000 arthritis patients die from the toxic effects of Aspirin and other anti-inflammatory drugs every year in the United States.

The new law about brightly-colored toy guns was obviously authored by someone who has not followed the latest trends in gun ownership.  In the past couple years, gun ownership among women has skyrocketed.  Gun manufactures have responded to the new demand by specifically designing guns for the female demographic.  These guns are...wait for it...brightly colored!  If lots of real firearms are now being manufactured in bright colors, requiring toy guns to also feature bright colors seems to miss the point. Here's a picture of the new .38 special from Charter Arms:  



Promotional photo from budsgunshop.com

Concealed Weapons on Campus

The biggest head-scratcher of all these new California gun laws is SB-707.  That law will prohibit concealed weapons permit-holders from carrying firearms onto the campus of any school or university.  A violation may be punishable by up to 4 years in prison. 

I'm still wrapping my head around this one.  If there was some rational reasoning behind the law, this is the part where I would try to explain it.  There have been plenty of instances over the past few years wherein a deranged madman has perpetrated a mass shooting on the grounds of a school. To my knowledge, exactly zero of them have been licensed concealed weapon permit-holders. They have all been criminals who obviously weren't deterred by existing laws against murder.  

The new law will apply exclusively to law-abiding adults who have undergone extensive background checks.  It will not prevent lunatics from bringing assault rifles into classrooms; it will only prevent victims from defending themselves.  

If you or a loved one has questions about gun laws in California, call our office for a free attorney consultation.  We might not like them, but we understand the goofy rules that govern gun ownership in the Golden State.  (714) 505-2468.  Ask for John.

Thanks for reading.

Santa Ana Gun Lawyer