A Gun Violence Restraining Order Bill May Affect California DUI Offenders

A “gun violence restraining order” bill pushing for stricter gun control measures was recently proposed by state Assemblyman Das Williams (D-Santa Barbara) and Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley) following the latest California mass shooting episode.

Handgun

In late May, 22 year-old Elliot Rodger fatally shot two women and stabbed three others before shooting himself. In the months prior to his violent rampage, family members had been concerned about Rodger’s mental health and had even contacted a mental health agency regarding his possible instability. Though police briefly visited with Rodger, they took no other action to try to prevent future violent behaviors on his part.

The proposed law would allow family members, spouses, or friends to report concerns of mental instability of loved ones to the authorities. Police may then investigate the concerns and, if they find the concerns substantiated, they may ask a judge to issue a gun violence restraining order. This order would prohibit the person in question from possessing or buying a firearm for a certain period of time.

A judge could approve a restraining order against someone who has lawfully registered all firearms, passed background checks, and who has no criminal convictions if the mental health concerns are deemed valid. While advocates for gun rights are expected to challenge the law as a violation of rights, the person in question will have the right to challenge the restraining order in front of a judge. Therefore, legislators state that the proposed law would be balanced and fair.

The proposal stems from recommendations by the Consortium for Risk-Based Firearm Policy at the Center for Gun Policy and Research at Johns Hopkins School of Public Health.

How does this affect DUI offenders?

The Consortium for Risk-Based Firearm Policy made recommendations for gun restrictions beyond mental health, stating that other risk factors may also trigger a gun violence restraining order. One of these risk factors was having a conviction for driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol or drugs. The research group indicated that a DUI conviction signals substance abuse problems, which can potentially make gun ownership dangerous.

The Consortium states that DUI convictions may show irresponsibility, disregard for the law, and a heightened risk of violence. However, all people convicted of DUI should not be automatically assumed to have substance abuse problems or be potentially violent. DUI is not a felony (but can be considered as such under certain circumstances) , not (necessarily) a violent crime, and generally do not involve any type of firearm misuse. The link between drunk driving and future gun misuse is tenuous at best.

Firearm restrictions would be just another consequence of a DUI conviction. Other consequences can include:

  •         Jail time
  •         Driver’s license suspension
  •         Fines
  •         Probation
  •         Ignition interlock devices
  •         Disqualification from certain jobs
  •         Loss of professional licenses

We will keep track of the progress of the new gun violence restraining order legislation and how it relates to DUI convictions as it makes its way through the state legislature. If you are facing DUI charges in Sonoma County, Lake County, or Mendocino County, call Beck Law, P.C. for assistance.

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