Washington—In response to the recent mass shooting in the Isla Vista community near Santa Barbara, U.S. Senators Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer (both D-CA) today introduced The Pause for Safety Act—legislation that will encourage states to empower families and others with new tools to prevent a tragedy if someone they are close to poses a threat of gun violence.
Congresswoman Lois Capps (D-CA), who represents the Santa Barbara area, is introducing The Pause for Safety Act in the House today.
“We must do everything in our power to keep firearms out of the hands of those who pose a serious risk of harm to themselves or to others,” Senator Feinstein said. “I’m pleased to work with Senator Boxer on this bill, which creates a new grant program to encourage states to allow family members and others to seek court orders to temporarily prohibit dangerous individuals from possessing a firearm. The bill would allow those who know the most about the condition of someone who poses a risk of committing violence to take steps to remove firearms from that individual’s possession.”
“It is haunting to me that the family of the gunman was desperate to prevent an act of violence and alerted police, but they were still unable to stop this tragedy,” Senator Boxer said. “When the people who know someone best fear there is a threat of violence, they should be able to go to court – with due process for everyone involved – to help prevent a tragedy.”
“Our community in Isla Vista has been upended by this horrific act of violence,” Congresswoman Capps said. “We need reasonable, common sense solutions so that we all feel safe in our homes and out in our communities. This important bill will allow families who see disturbing warning signs the ability to work with law enforcement and mental health professionals so that they may intervene and better prevent acts of violence. Far too often there are many red flags but no one is able to connect the dots. This bill seeks to do just that.”
The Pause for Safety Act would encourage states to take the following steps to help prevent gun violence:
•One, ensure that families and others can go to court to seek a gun violence prevention order to temporarily stop someone close to them who poses a threat to himself, herself or others from purchasing a firearm.
•Two, ensure that a court can issue a gun violence prevention warrant that would allow law enforcement to take temporary possession of firearms that are in an individual’s possession if the court determines that the individual poses a threat to himself, herself or others.
•Three, ensure that law enforcement makes full use of all existing state and local gun databases when assessing a tip, warning or request from a concerned family member or other close associate.
The measure would create a new grant program – the Pause for Safety Grant Program – to help support these efforts. States that take action to enact these preventive measures would be eligible for the grants to provide resources for courts and law enforcement as they implement these measures.
In California, Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley), Assemblyman Das Williams (D-Santa Barbara) and state Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara) recently introduced legislation that would empower families and others to go to court and seek these type of preventive orders and warrants if they fear someone close to them could commit an act of violence.