SACRAMENTO, Calif. (CN) – Shortly after winning the November 2018 election, California Gov. Gavin Newsom vowed to “raise the bar” on gun control after 12 people died in a mass shooting at Borderline Bar in Thousand Oaks. On Friday, the Democrat made good on his promise by signing a bill package that expands gun violence restraining orders and limits residents from buying more than one semiautomatic rifle in a month.
Newsom called gun violence in the state and country a “health epidemic” and blasted the federal government for inaction during a bill signing ceremony at the state Capitol.
“While Washington has refused to act on even the most basic gun safety reforms, California is once again leading the nation in passing meaningful gun safety reforms,” Newsom said.
Many of the 15 bills signed Friday by Newsom were introduced in wake of the Borderline Bar shooting, including one that extends the duration of gun violence restraining orders to a maximum of five years.
Under Assembly Bill 12, when a judge signs a gun restraining order, a companion search warrant will be issued as well to help law enforcement recover the weapons. The measure by Assemblywoman Jacqui Irwin, D-Thousand Oaks, does not include a grace period, so gun owners wouldn’t be able to hide, sell or trade their weapons instead of surrendering them to police.
“We looked at the laws that are currently in place, and yes California has the toughest laws in the nation, but we made sure to see that they were working as well as they could,” Irwin said of giving teeth to the restraining order process.
Irwin’s bill was sponsored by Ventura County law enforcement officials who said the changes would streamline the process of getting guns out of the hands of people deemed dangerous by the courts.
Red-flag laws entered the national discussion after the 2018 Parkland High School shooting and 17 states have now enacted some sort of gun restraining order process.
Newsom also signed Assembly Bill 61 which allows educators, employers and co-workers to ask a judge to take away someone’s weapons. Currently only immediate family members and law enforcement can file gun restraining order petitions.
Former Gov. Jerry Brown twice vetoed similar expansion attempts. The strengthened red-flag laws will go into effect September 2020.
“Thoughts and prayers are no longer enough,” said AB 61 author Phil Ting, D-San Francisco. “With school and workplace shootings on the rise, it’s common sense to give the people we see every day the power to intervene and prevent tragedies.”
Newsom signed another bill that was vetoed by his predecessor that bars the sale of semiautomatic rifles to anyone under 21. Senate Bill 61 also extends the existing handgun purchase limit of one per month to semiautomatic rifles, with exemptions for law enforcement officers and movie studios.
Other bills signed include:
Assembly Bill 339, which requires individual law enforcement agencies to develop written standards regarding the use of gun restraining orders;
Assembly Bill 164 holds anyone with an out-of-state gun restraining order to the same restrictions on buying firearms in California;
Assembly Bill 879 seeks to crackdown on “ghost guns” by requiring background checks for the sale of firearm frames and receivers by licensed vendors; and
Senate Bill 376 caps the number of firearms unlicensed residents can sell to 50 per calendar year.