Six weeks after Elliot Rodger killed six people in Isla Vista, three of them with semiautomatic handguns, area politicians have promised to strengthen gun-control laws. Uniting at the federal, state, and county levels, a group of elected officials gathered Monday on the Isla Vista bluffs at Walter Capps Park. There were several “red flags” prior to Rodger’s deadly pursuit, and the proposed measures seek to address the nexus between mental health and gun control, several officials noted.
Heading the event, Representative Lois Capps (pictured) spoke first and told reporters about two bills in the pipeline. One is dubbed the Pause for Safety Act and would grant funds to states that adopt specific law enforcement practices. These steps include checking gun databases before responding to welfare checks and allowing families to secure court orders that would temporarily confiscate firearms or prohibit their purchase. Another of Capps’s bills would expand protections for all (not just spouses or cohabitants) affected by domestic violence and stalking.
Following the Sandy Hook shooting at a Connecticut elementary school in 2012, various attempts to strengthen gun control at the national level have stalled. Gaining considerable attention were congressional bills that sought to implement “universal background checks” — eliminating exceptions for private dealers and gun shows — but such measures have since been tied up in partisan wrangling. Answering a question from a reporter, Capps said the difference in the Pause bill is that it allots money specifically for law enforcement to give them another “tool in the tool chest” when dealing with mental illness cases.
At the state level, Assemblymember Das Williams — working with State Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson — authored similar state legislation that would allow a family member or roommate (for at least six months) to temporarily separate a person in question from a firearm, though permanent confiscation would “ultimately be up to the judge.” Last week, the supervisors and District Attorney Joyce Dudley backed the bill. Since May 23, almost one shooting a week has shaken a different community in the country, Williams said. Joyce Dudley, Supervisor Doreen Farr, Police Sgt. Riley Harwood, and James Joyce, deputy district director for State Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson, were also in attendance on Monday.