A California law designed to help police or family members keep weapons out of vulnerable individuals may have stopped the shooter who killed 12 people in one country and one western bar.
After a mass shooting four years ago, the state passed a new law requiring courts to temporarily release a vulnerable person from possession of weapons.
The massacre in Thousand Oaks, California has given worrying parallels to the 2014 shootings, experts said. It highlights that California's three-year law, "Force of arms, which restricts the use of force," is still rarely used.
The new law was passed in 2014 as part of the Isla Vista shooting and was intended to fill gaps in existing mental health and violence laws – gaps that allowed Isla Vista shooter Elliot Rodger to legitimately own weapons in spite of legal disruptions. that had alerted his family and initiated a law review by the law enforcement agencies.
Both at the shootings of Isla Vista and Thousand Oaks police had contact with the shooter before the attack. However, they found that they did not meet the criteria that are involuntarily imprisoned for further assessment of mental health status.
The Californian law on violence against violence, which came into force in 2016, should fill the void and allow law enforcement or family members to disarm someone who shows signs of dangerous behavior, even if his or her behavior does not justify immediate imprisonment.
"The idea of firearms restriction is that you do not have to wait until someone becomes immediately dangerous and threatens someone when behaviors indicate a risk. The idea is to intervene upstream, "said Jeff Swanson, a Duke University researcher and one of the United States' leading experts on mental health and violence.
It is an approach to rifle prevention that has been increasingly supported by both sides since the shoot-out in Parkland, Florida (February) which killed 17 people. The 19-year-old Parkland shooter had a long history of problematic behavior and contact with law enforcement agencies. The FBI received two separate warnings of the shooter's threatening statements, but could not fully track them.
Gun control orders, also known as "extreme risk control orders," are designed to "help people who are most likely aware that someone is in danger of injuring themselves or others, take action to eliminate the most deadly forms of harm," Anderman said.
The laws only allow temporary seizure of weapons, give those addressed by the orders the opportunity to challenge them in court, and imply penalties for anyone who tries to abuse the orders.
Since Parkland, eight states, including Florida, have passed new versions of these laws. Five of these bills were signed by Republican governors. Trump's White House has supported politics and encouraged more states to pass these laws at the state level.
However, experts say the enforcement of the landmark law has lagged behind in California, and many people still do not know it exists.
"There are many law enforcement officers in this state who have never heard of the violence against violence," said Allison Anderman, senior attorney at the Giffords Law Center on Preventing Armed Violence, working on the law.
"At the state level, there is nothing that I know that officers need to be trained in this law."
Due to the concerns of his parents and his advisor about disturbing videos he had put online, deputies of the Sheriff of Santa Barbara visited the 22-year-old Rodger, but found him "calm, shy and polite". Rodger told them that his mother was a "worry wart."
A month later, he stabbed three of his roommates in the university town of Isla Vista, whereupon he made a three-king strike.
When the sheriff's deputies visited the house of Thousand Oaks gunman, 28-year-old Ian David Long, in April, they found him "a little angry" and "somewhat irrational," but determined that he did not meet the criteria for involuntary detention For further assessment of mental health, the Sheriff of Ventura County Geoff Dean said on Thursday.
On Wednesday night, the fire opened in a college student-popular Thousand Oaks bar that killed 12 people, including a 25-year-old Sheriff & # 39; s Department veteran. He used a 45-caliber Glock handgun that had been bought legally, the sheriff said.
Lange was known among his neighbors for breaking things and punching holes in the walls of the house he shared with his mother, the Los Angeles Times reported.
"They talked about all this anger, but he did not meet the criteria for involuntary engagement. That's the best point we believe this instrument should be used on, "said Christian Heyne, Legislative Director of the Force Abolition Coalition, an interest group that was at the forefront of limiting gun violence.
While it was too early to make any definitive statement about the role that an arms-control measure might have played in preventing the firing of Thousand Oaks, Heyne said, "In California, there are many places where law enforcement is urgently needed, not only in terms of the mechanism itself and how it works, but also where it can be useful, what kind of gaps it can fill. "
Some efforts to improve training are underway, including one led by the San Diego Public Prosecutor.
An investigation by the Sacramento Bee revealed that in less than 200 cases in the first two years after the entry into force of the law, the Californian courts had issued force of arms.
In press briefings on Thursday, the Sheriff's Office of the Ventura district did not mention any weapons blocking order in connection with Long's case. A spokesman for the sheriff did not immediately respond to requests for an opinion as to whether law enforcement officials had applied for Long's gun shutdown request there or whether there had been a discussion over the prosecution of an order.
In California, California courts have imposed only one gun power restriction in 2016, and three in 2017, according to the Sacramento Bee investigation.
"What happened in this situation – why law enforcement agencies have not taken the step to get an armed force restriction request after this person was not committed – is something I am all hoping to hear, in my opinion," Anderman said.