Isla Vista shootings spark new gun legislation in New Jersey
Flowers placed at the I.V. Deli in Isla Vista on May 25, 2014, form a part of a makeshift memorial to victims of a shooting rampage.(Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)
A longtime state senator and former New Jersey governor, Richard Codey, said the Isla Vista shootings that left six students dead last month have led him to introduce a bill that would allow firearms to be temporarily seized from gun owners who are proved to be mentally ill or a threat to others.
Codey introduced a bill calling for “gun violence restraining orders” in the state. Under the measure, relatives could petition a judge to confiscate guns from a resident if they can prove that person is a danger to themselves or others.
The measure comes one week after California Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley) and other California legislators introduced a similar bill in the wake of the shootings near UC Santa Barbara.
“As you look at all the mass killings that we’ve had over the past 10 years, they’re very well programmed as to who they are. They’re young white males, teenagers or young adults, who feel that they are outcasts from society,” Codey told the Los Angeles Times. “And in some cases they are outcasts because they exhibit very vibrant signs of mental illness.”
His bill calls for seized guns to be held for 10 days, Codey said. Then the gun owner could make a case before a state judge to get back a weapon.
On Friday, Skinner said that Oregon legislators had requested a copy of her bill and were considering introducing similar legislation. Though they aren’t called “gun violence restraining orders,” similar measures have been adopted in Connecticut, Texas and Indiana, she said.
On May 23, Elliot Rodger stabbed his three roommates to death, then went on a shooting rampage that left three others dead and a dozen injured in the Isla Vista community heavily populated by UC Santa Barbara students. He killed himself a short time later.
Rodger, who was 22, may have suffered from a form of mental illness, and his parents had grown concerned with his mental state. Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies visited his apartment to conduct a wellness check, but Rodger didn’t exhibit any outward signs of mental illness, they said.
In a series of chilling online videos, Rodger said he had begun planning the attack by the time the deputies had arrived, and there were weapons and ammunition in his apartment. In a disturbing 137-page document, Rodger wrote that he was terrified the officers would ask to search his apartment and find his guns.
“It’s easy to look back, but this would have been a vehicle his family could have readily used,” Codey said of his legislation and of Skinner’s. “But certainly we’ll never know.”
New Jersey is already home to some of the toughest gun laws in the nation, and the state Legislature passed a bill this year reducing the legal limit for ammunition magazines to 10 rounds from 15. The bill remains unsigned on Gov. Chris Christie’s desk.
Calls to the National Rifle Assn. seeking comment were not immediately returned. Last week, Sam Paredes, executive director of the Gun Owners of California, called his state’s proposal a “knee-jerk reaction.”
Skinner said the bill was not meant to stigmatize the mentally ill and was aimed at preventing situations in which a person may be building up toward a violent act.
“Those may be situations where it’s not a long-term history of mental illness but it’s more their enragement over a circumstance and their lack of judgment and their access to weapons,” she said, referencing mass shootings in Canada and Seattle this week. “If someone close to you is in that circumstance and has access to those weapons, you could have this tool.”
Los Angeles Times staff writer Melanie Mason contributed to this report.
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