Ten gun owners are under court orders to give up their weapons after prosecutors and police filed gun violence restraining orders against them, San Diego authorities said Friday.
The orders require the gun owners — some of whom are dealing with severe mental health problems, according to the San Diego City Attorney’s Office — to surrender or sell the firearms, and bar them from possessing guns or ammunition for 12 months.
San Diego Superior Court Judge Tamila Ipema granted the first order on Jan. 3.
Under a state law that passed in 2014 and took effect in January 2016, family members, roommates and law enforcement officers may petition a court to deny a person’s access to firearms and ammunition if that person poses an imminent danger to themselves or others.
Washington and Oregon have passed similar laws. Two other states, Indiana and Connecticut, had laws that allow such petitions to be filed by law enforcement only.
The goal for each of these laws, supporters say, is to help prevent firearm-related tragedies.
City Attorney Mara Elliott said in a news release that San Diego has adopted an aggressive strategy of filing charges and requesting gun-violence restraining orders against people who “present a serious risk of harm.” The approach was developed by the City Attorney’s Office and by San Diego police Assistant Chief Dave Nisleit, who will take over as the new chief next month.
“Our federal government is inexcusably ignoring the growing problem of gun violence in our schools and communities,” Elliott said. “The City of San Diego will not tolerate federal inaction. We’re doing everything in our power to respond to the epidemic of senseless killing by removing guns from the hands of unstable and irresponsible gun owners.”
The statement came two days after a 19-year-old former student opened fire at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., killing 17 people and wounding more than a dozen others.
The City Attorney’s Office reported that restraining orders were granted against the following:
* A 39-year-old San Carlos man, who fired a gun at trees, rats, raccoons and his neighbor’s backyard while drunk and high on prescription drugs.
* A 23-year-old ex-Marine who walked into a Kearny Mesa auto parts store with a loaded handgun, but called police before shooting anyone.
* A 60-year-old Otay Mesa man who grabbed a .38-caliber revolver and fled his home after his family discovered he was molesting his grandchild. He was arrested with his gun in his vehicle.
* An 81-year-old man from the Carmel Mountain area who threatened to shoot his wife and a neighbor because he believed they were having an affair.
* A 53-year-old Allied Gardens man with significant mental health issues who used a firecracker to damage a neighbor’s front door. Officers seized a rifle with a bayonet and two illegal high-capacity magazines from his apartment.
* A 38-year-old Allied Gardens man who threatened to kill himself, his wife and their young child if she left him. His wife had overheard him crying in a bathroom and cocking his .40-caliber pistol.
* A 28-year-old Mission Valley man who grabbed a gun case and threatened suicide, then threw his girlfriend to the ground when she tried to call for help. Police seized two handguns, tow rifles and a shotgun.
* A 33-year-old Mid-City man who locked his wife in a car with him, threatening her with a loaded firearm. Police searched the car and found a meth pipe and two loaded firearms that did not belong to him. Later, he surrendered a Glock 9mm and a.380-caliber handgun.
* A 35-year-old Allied Gardens man with a history of domestic violence, who owned several guns including a 9mm pistol, a Mosquito semi-automatic pistol, a Springfield .40-caliber pistol, and a Mossberg shotgun. His wife feared he might kill her.
* A 40-year-old La Jolla man who told his fiancée in a text message that he wanted to shoot her in the head, then threatened her ex-boyfriend while holding a knife behind his back. The La Jolla man surrendered a handgun and an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle.
There have been several mass shootings in San Diego County dating back to Jan. 29, 1979, when 16-year-old Brenda Spencer fired shots at San Carlos elementary school, killing the principal and a janitor, and wounding eight children.
Decades later, on March 5, 2001, 15-year-old Charles “Andy” Williams killed two students and wounded 13 others at Santana High School in Santee.
Ari Freilich, staff attorney and California legal affairs director for Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, said the state law that allows gun-violence restraining orders is designed to address the some types of circumstances that played out this week in Florida, where there had been signs that the teenage suspect in the shooting could be dangerous, according to published reports.
Freilich did not have specific information as to how many of the orders have been requested and acted upon in California so far, but he said he knows that number is relatively small “partly because it’s (still) a new law.”
The Sacramento Bee has reported that the California courts issued 86 gun violence restraining orders in 2016, most of them coming from Los Angeles and Santa Barbara counties.
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