Oppose AB 1014

I STRONGLY OPPOSE AB 1014 (“Gun violence restraining orders”).

Despite recent amendments, this measure is still a callous and cold attack on those who may be in crisis. This measure offers no diagnosis, no counseling, no treatment, no observation, no follow-up, no funding, and no compassion for those deemed to be in crisis. AB 1014 seeks to question the mental stability of California gun owners in secret, without the input of a medical professional, leading to property searches and confiscation by operation of a new type of restraining order and seizure warrant. By bogging down the court calendar with a never-ending series of hearings over the lay opinion of “dangerous,” and the inevitable counter filings and lawsuits, this measure is top-heavy, expensive, duplicative of existing tools, stigmatizing, and offensive to the civil rights of all Californians.

These “secret orders” could originate from many sources: It could come from any “law enforcement officer” from any jurisdiction. It could come from any relative within “consanguinity or affinity within the second degree,” including any current or former roommate. (See Cal. Penal Code § 422.4.)

AB 1014 does not allow a judicial officer to consider the mental stability or capacity of the petitioner or whether the petitioner is involved with the restrained subject in a nasty divorce, civil suit, custody or estate battle, or any other emotionally-charged (but non-physical) dispute.

While it is difficult to put a price tag on the deprivation of fundamental civil rights, AB 1014 will likely cost the state millions in its implementation, training, outreach, form creation, database management, court and local agency mandates, and civil litigation resulting from flagrant violations of due process and deprivation of civil liberties.

In spite of the courts’ and Department of Justice’s (DOJ) long and abysmal record of improperly managing data, making timely reports, and lack of accountability (as witnessed by a recent State Audit requested by the Joint Legislative Audit Committee) , AB 1014 asks for more of the same. The measure provides no funding to update the courts’ and DOJ’s systems, add staff, or train for new and expanded operations. AB 1014 is, to put it bluntly, job security for the Bureau of State Audits and a boondoggle for Californians.

AB 1014 would create an “emergency gun violence restraining order” issued on the assertion of any “law enforcement officer” (from any jurisdiction) followed by a “judicial officer’s” finding that “reasonable cause to believe that the subject of the petition poses an immediate and present danger…” (See proposed PC §18125.) The subject of an order may not even be aware of the judicial proceedings, nor is the accuser required to have ever met (or even spoken with) the accused.

And what constitutes a “reasonable” finding? A single Twitter or Facebook post published under false pretenses, such as a hacked or real-looking “spoof” account, could be seen as “reasonable” to both the law enforcement officer pursuing and the judicial officer adjudicating the restraining order/warrant application(s).

The measure goes on to attack civil rights again in the proposed ex parte gun violence restraining order, this time turning on the assertions of any immediate family member. (See proposed PC § 18150.) The statutory definition of “immediate family” member is: “…any spouse, whether by marriage or not, domestic partner, parent, child, any person related by consanguinity or affinity within the second degree, or any other person who regularly resides in the household, or who, within the prior six months, regularly resided in the household.” Put another way, any former roommate, separated spouse, rebellious teen or spiteful in–law can secretly petition to have someone deemed “dangerous,” and separated from their civil rights.
A petitioner’s hearsay testimony can be given in complete secrecy to as little as a traffic commissioner, which could then lead to a warrant to search a subject’s home, business, and other places known to the subject. (See proposed PC § 1524(a)(14).) It also allows for a broad general search for any weapons that are “believed” to be controlled by the subject. (See Proposed PC 18107.)

A judicial officer (e.g., a judge, administrative law judge, judge pro tem, traffic court commissioner, or referee) is mandated take into account hearsay under proposed PC § 18155(b)(1), and may take into account dubious facts under proposed PC § 18155(b)(2). For example, a court must take into account all testimony about “threats” (whether true or not) and may take into account arrests that did not even result in charges, as well as the mere exercise of a fundamental, individual right. Bizarrely, AB 1014 specifically calls out “[e]vidence of recent acquisition of firearms or other deadly weapons” as a factor in deciding whether or not to deprive someone of their rights – namely, the Second Amendment right that was being exercised in the first place.

AB 1014 is simply an expensive, cynical, and punitive attack on those who dare exercise a constitutional right in the Golden State. For these reasons I must strongly oppose AB 1014 and urge a NO vote.

Greg Raven