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California Senate approves gun bill in response to Isla Vista attacks

California Senate approves gun bill in response to Isla Vista attacks
UC Santa Barbara student Ariana Richmond writes in chalk on the sidewalk in front of the apartment where assailant Elliot Rodger lived. (Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)

With support from families who lost loved ones in the Isla Vista massacre in May, the state Senate on Wednesday approved legislation aimed at taking guns away from people seen as a danger to themselves or others.

The bill, which goes back to the Assembly for a vote on amendments, would allow law enforcement and family members of people they suspect to be dangerous to petition the courts for a restraining order barring possession of firearms for 21 days. The amendments include a delay in the law's effective date to Jan. 1, 2016.

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The legislation was acted on just three months after a disturbed man, Elliot Rodger, went on a rampage and killed six UC Santa Barbara students and wounded 13 other people. The killer had purchased firearms even though his family and others worried he might be a danger to himself and others.

"It's an opportunity to take guns away from people who are in moments of distress" Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara).

Sen. Jim Nielsen (R-Gerber) opposed the bill, saying the answer instead is to end the policy of letting many people out of prison and jail early.

"There are some who will use every tragedy to take guns away from law-abiding citizens" Nielsen told his colleagues. "Let's not release into our community without treatment thousands of mentally ill individuals."

The vote was 23 to 8.

Democratic Assembly members Nancy Skinner of Berkeley and Das Williams of Santa Barbara introduced the legislation, which drew support in a letter from family members of three of the students killed in the Isla Vista attacks.

Two fathers of Isla Vista victims were at the Capitol on Wednesday to urge passage of the bill. Bob Weiss lost his daughter, Veronika, 19.

"Nothing we can do can bring Veronika and the other victims back, but my hope is by working to pass AB 1014, that other lives will be spared," Weiss said tearfully at a news conference at the Capitol.

Added Skinner: "When the mother of 22-year-old Elliot Rodger saw signs that her son was a danger to himself and others, she could not prevent him from possessing a gun, nor could law enforcement."

Twitter: @mcgreevy99

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