A groundbreaking California law passed in 2016 that allows people to obtain a 21-day restraining order barring individuals from owning guns if it is believed that they are in danger of committing a violent act has scarcely been used despite being lauded as an “unbelievably powerful tool,” the Los Angeles Times reports.
The law, inspired by the 2014 Isla Vista shooting where Elliott Rogers stabbed three people to death in his apartment before committing a series of drive-by shootings that killed six and injured 14 others before he killed himself, allows a person concerned about the mental health of an individual to request a gun violence restraining order from a judge.
After 21 days, a judge holds a hearing to determine if a year-long order should be instituted. Family members, roommates and police officers can request an order from a judge.
Fewer than 200 have been issued in California since the law passed, according to the Times, in part because a lot of people aren’t aware of the legislation.
“This is an unbelievably powerful tool that fills a previous gap,” said Santa Clara County Supervising Deputy District Attorney Marisa McKeown. “Before you had to wait for them to do something.”
Other states have followed suit in approving “red flag” laws as some investigations have shown that the suspect showed warning signs before an attack.
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