Will More States Parrot Connecticut’s Gun Seizure Law?

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In States led by elected officials who view violent crime as a problem that can be mitigated by limiting citizens’ access to guns, one preventive “solution” to head off sensational mass shootings may be to emulate a longstanding Connecticut law that provides for the confiscation of firearms under certain circumstances.

In 1999, Connecticut passed a law that allows a judge to order the “temporary” seizure of a citizen’s firearms if law enforcement can persuade the court that the subject represents a danger to himself and/or others. A seizure must be followed, within 14 days, by a hearing to determine whether the subject can have his firearms immediately returned. If the court finds against the subject, then the State is authorized to hold on to the guns for a year.

Now left-leaning State officials in California and New Jersey, horrified at the most recent spate of mass shootings to grip the 24-hour news cycle, aim to enact their own versions of the seizure law — in the professed belief that having a new legal mechanism to take someone’s guns away will pre-empt such crimes.

California’s AB-1014, which is in the markup phase of its move through the Senate, would create a procedure for the State to obtain a “gun violence restraining order” to seize the weapons of any person a judge deems to be a threat:

This bill would authorize a court to issue an emergency gun violence restraining order if a law enforcement officer asserts and a judicial officer finds that there are reasonable grounds to believe that the subject of the petition poses an immediate and present danger of causing personal injury to himself, herself, or another by having under his or her custody and control, owning, purchasing, possessing, or receiving a firearm and that the order is necessary to prevent personal injury to himself, herself, or another person, as specified. The bill would require a law enforcement officer to serve the order on the restrained person, if the restrained person can reasonably be located, file a copy of the order with the court, and have the order entered into the computer database system for protective and restraining orders maintained by the Department of Justice. The bill would require the presiding judge of the superior court in each county to designate at least one judge, commissioner, or referee to be reasonably available to issue orally, by telephone or otherwise, emergency gun violence restraining orders at all times whether or not the court is in session.

Aside from forever branding the subject of such an order by tracking him in a database, as well as the law’s abundant potential for abuse, the bill also makes further provisions for renewing the no-guns order on a year-to-year basis. It further places the burden of proof to break that cycle not on the State, but on the targeted citizen:

The bill would authorized [sic] the renewal of the order for additional one-year periods and would permit the restrained person to request one hearing to terminate the order during the effective period of the initial order or each renewal period.

Get caught with a gun while you’re under a “gun violence restraining order,” and you get your guns taken away for five years.

New Jersey State Senator Richard Codey, a Democrat, is behind a similar measure in the Garden State. You can read more on Codey’s confiscation push here.

Personal Liberty

Ben Bullard

Reconciling the concept of individual sovereignty with conscientious participation in the modern American political process is a continuing preoccupation for staff writer Ben Bullard. A former community newspaper writer, Bullard has closely observed the manner in which well-meaning small-town politicians and policy makers often accept, unthinkingly, their increasingly marginal role in shaping the quality of their own lives, as well as those of the people whom they serve. He argues that American public policy is plagued by inscrutable and corrupt motives on a national scale, a fundamental problem which individuals, families and communities must strive to solve. This, he argues, can be achieved only as Americans rediscover the principal role each citizen plays in enriching the welfare of our Republic.

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