Let’s Reduce Gun Violence By Educating the Public and Training Our Police to Use California’s “Red Flag” Law

California has some of the country’s strictest gun control laws; these laws are likely the reason that California has one of the lowest overall gun deaths per capita in the nation.

Yet, as the recent mass shooting in Gilroy shows, our state laws are not enough, by themselves, to prevent our residents from becoming victims of gun violence. In order to better protect our residents in California from gun violence, two more crucial steps need to be taken.

One of these steps — and by far the most important — is that Federal gun regulations must catch-up to California’s. 

The assault rifle used in the mass shooting in Gilroy is banned in California, but it is legal in our neighboring state of Nevada, where it was legally bought by the killer three weeks before the shooting.

The killer also had several high capacity magazines for the weapon, which are also illegal in California, but not in Nevada where they were bought.

Until the federal government finds the courage to defy the NRA and the gun dealer lobby, it will be very difficult to prevent these weapons of war from other states from being brought into and used in California.

For this reason, national action on gun violence should be advocated by everyone in California who cares about reducing gun violence.  Politicians who support the current president’s policy of giving veto power over federal gun regulations to the gun dealer lobby are undermining the effectiveness of California’s gun laws. For California to be safe, assault rifles and large capacity magazines must be outlawed in all of the states.

But another important step can be taken now, by us, even at the local level. That step is to inform and educate the public — and train our police officers — on the effective use of California’s gun regulations that are already on the books.

Perhaps the most important of these gun regulations is California’s “red flag” law, which empowers family members and law enforcement officers to petition courts to obtain a “Gun Violence Restraining Order” (GVRO) to temporarily limit a person’s access to guns if they are an “immediate and present danger” of harming themselves or others.

In 2014, California became the first state to let family members ask a judge to remove firearms from a relative who appears to pose a threat.  The “Gun Violence Restraining Order” law (California Penal Code Section 18100 et sec), modeled after domestic violence restraining orders, allows police or family members to obtain a judge’s order to disarm a gun owner they fear will turn violent. The order requires the gun owner to surrender all firearms for 21 days, and can be extended to a full year after a hearing.

The California legislature took action after a mentally ill man killed six students and wounded 13 others near the University of California, Santa Barbara, before killing himself. Authorities were legally unable to confiscate the weapons of the killer, despite his family’s having expressed concerns to authorities that he would become violent.

California’s law also empowers police to petition for the protective orders, which can require authorities to remove firearms for up to one year. Fifteen states and the District of Columbia have since adopted similar laws.

Red flag laws save lives.

A recent study by the U.C. Davis School of Medicine found that California’s red flag law has significantly reduced gun violence.

According to Laura Cutilletta, legal director of the Giffords Law Center, California’s red flag law acts as a sort of timeout, so someone in psychological distress can get counseling while their fitness to possess a gun is evaluated.  “It’s a way to allow for temporary removal of firearms in a situation just like this: where somebody has made threats, where they have been expelled from school because of those threats, they’re in counseling, and parents or the school or whoever it is understands that this person poses a threat,” she explained.

However, the effectiveness of the red flag law has been limited by the lack of awareness of the law on the part of both the public and the police.  Too often, neither the public nor the local police are aware of or encouraged to obtain Gun Violence Restraining Orders.

A national organization, Speak for Safety, has formed for the specific purpose of raising awareness of the Gun Violence Restraining Order as a tool to remove firearms and ammunition from people who are an immediate danger to themselves or others.

Too often, neither family members nor law enforcement personnel know that such a gun violence prevention tool exists, even in states, like California, that have very effective GVRO laws on the books.

San Diego is an exception.  Since 2017, San Diego County has issued more than 300 orders, more than any other county in the state. They have been used to intervene in escalating cases of domestic violence, to prevent potential suicides, and with people with potentially dangerous mental illness. In the end, the police have seized more than 400 weapons and nearly 80,000 rounds of ammunition. As San Diego City Attorney Mara Elliott has stated, ““We have no problem with responsible people having guns,” she said. “Our concern are the people who are no longer responsible. That’s when we’ll step in.”

Student march on Harvard Avenue in Irvine for stricter gun control. Photo: Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register/SCNG).

The San Diego City Attorney’s office has been given a grant by the State of California to provide this training.  According to the San Diego City Attorney’s office, “Using case studies, we explain ways to apply the law, describe the process for obtaining a GVRO, and address complex issues concerning domestic violence, juveniles and individuals with neurological disorders, including dementia and Alzheimer’s. We also devote a significant amount of time to the topics of service, search warrants and seizure (firearms). The curriculum is directed at those responsible for implementing and coordinating a GVRO program at their agencies. Typically, all forms of law enforcement and city attorneys, with law enforcement clients, would directly benefit from this event. We have received nothing but positive feedback, increased interest and requests for more training from the law enforcement agencies and city attorneys we have worked with so far.”

You can see San Diego’s slide presentation about California’s red flag law here.

I believe that Irvine should also be a leader in utilizing the common sense gun control regulations that are already on the books.

Therefore, I will propose that the Irvine City Council work with City Staff and the Irvine Police Department to devise and implement a public awareness and education program regarding California’s red flag law, hold training sessions on the red flag law for members of the Irvine Police Department, and direct our law enforcement officers to use GVROs whenever appropriate.  We should contact both the San Diego City Attorney’s Office and the State of California about providing us with assistance with red flag training, procedures, and protocols.

Please join me in this effort by contacting the Mayor and the Irvine City Council and urging them to support this common sense proposal to use California’s existing red flag law to prevent gun violence and save lives in Irvine.

Everyone who knows someone who may be at risk of hurting themselves or others with a gun, should know how to “Speak for Safety” with a GVRO.

 

 

 

Yes, Let’s Create a Gun Violence Task Force — And Let’s Also Have a Real Discussion about How to Prevent Mass Shootings and Gun Violence

Based on her recent social media post, it appears that in the wake of three recent mass shootings (in Gilroy, California, El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio) leaving at least 45 people dead and many dozens more injured, Irvine Mayor Christina Shea intends to create a task force to discuss what we can do in Irvine to prevent gun violence.

Significantly, Mayor Shea asks that we not turn this discussion into a “partisan” issue, and that we not hold local, state, or national politicians responsible for their actions, or lack of action, leading to the proliferation of mass shootings and gun violence.

I fully support a discussion of how our City Council can help prevent Irvine from becoming the site of the next gun violence atrocity. This discussion is long overdue. Our nation is suffering from a gun violence emergency.

But the discussion must not be a sham, and not be muzzled from the very beginning by preventing mention of the fact that Republican politicians — at every level of government — have sided with gun dealers and the NRA over the safety of our communities and families, and have stubbornly blocked Congress from enacting meaningful, common sense federal gun regulation.

We must also be willing to acknowledge the fact that President Donald Trump has incited violence and manipulated racial hatred in ways that many of us had hoped belonged to our tragic past. And we must explicitly reject and condemn Trump’s racist rhetoric.

As President Obama recently said, as elected officials and community leaders, we must reject the rhetoric of those “who demonize those who don’t look like us, or suggest that other people, including immigrants, threaten our way of life, or refer to other people as sub-human, or imply that America belongs to just one certain type of people.” Such language “has no place in our politics and our public life” and it is time “for the overwhelming majority of Americans of goodwill, of every race and faith and political party, to say as much — clearly and unequivocally.”

Let’s have a real discussion of mass shootings and gun violence — without any attempts at mirco-management by the Mayor or self-serving limitations on that discussion being imposed in advance by local politicians who are afraid that the public is fed up with the Republican Party’s spinelessness in the face of the NRA and the racist rhetoric of Trumpism, and their policy of creating diversions after each mass shooting rather than enacting real, common sense, gun control regulation.

I also ask that this Task Force be comprised of and led by real experts in the field of gun violence prevention. We have many such experts here in Irvine on the faculty of UCI and the UCI School of Law.  Our task force should not be solely composed of — or led by — politicians with an interest in self-promotion or self-protection, or protecting their political allies from justified and necessary criticism.

In addition, I suggest that the Irvine City Council immediately direct our Irvine Police Department to promote awareness of California’s Gun Violence Restraining Order (GVRO) law, which allows family members and law enforcement to seek the temporary removal of firearms from someone they believe poses a danger to themselves or others.

While GVROs have been called “the best tool in the state of California for responding to a threat of gun violence,” they are rarely used because residents and law enforcement remain largely unaware of the law and its potential to help stop a crime before it has been committed.

You can see a video presentation of California GVROs here:

I also propose that the City of Irvine and the Irvine Police Department remind residents about California’s safe storage laws requiring that guns be locked away from minors and anyone who should not have access to them.

I look forward to a lively, positive and open-minded discussion of what we can do in Irvine to prevent mass shootings and gun violence, including an awareness and educational campaign about GVROs, issuing official statements from our City Council calling on President Trump to stop his inflammatory rhetoric demonizing immigrants, Muslims, and people of color, and calling on Congress to pass common sense gun regulations relating to universal background checks, military-style assault rifles, and high capacity magazines.

 

Remembering Traffic Victims — and Preventing Them in Irvine

Sunday, November 18, 2018, is the World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims.

This day is dedicated to remembering those killed or injured in road crashes, as well as to pay tribute to the dedicated emergency crews, police, fire and medical professionals who daily deal with the traumatic aftermath of road death and injury.

Unfortunately, this Day of Remembrance has increasing significance for the City of Irvine.

At our most recent City Council meeting, residents told us about witnessing extremely dangerous driving behavior and very close calls involving their children.

I am sure you also witnessed close calls or have heard similar frightening stories from your neighbors.

I am very concerned — as are others — that we will see an increase in serious injuries and deaths in Irvine because a motorist did not obey a stop sign, respect a pedestrian’s right of way, or pay attention.

I have set a meeting with our Chief of Police to step up traffic enforcement and to make sure that our police have every resource they need to ensure that our city is safe for children, other pedestrians, and bicycle riders.

I will be discussing numerous ways to increase pedestrian and bicyclist safety, especially for children, including stepped-up enforcement, more illumination of crosswalks, and better lighting and visibility at stop signs. Your suggestions are invited.

The truth is, we can greatly improve the safety of our streets simply by being better and more respectful drivers, and by all of us — drivers, bicyclists and pedestrians — following the rules of the road.

The most common cause of vehicular accidents is driver behavior, especially distracted driving.  In fact, distracted driving accounts for an astonishing 95 percent of all auto collisions.  According to the National Safety Council,  using a mobile phone while driving now the most prevalent cause of a traffic collisions.

Globally, road traffic crashes are the leading cause of death for people aged 15-29 and claim more than 1.25 million lives each year. In the United States, motor vehicle fatality is the leading cause of accidental death among teenagers, representing over one-third of all teenager deaths.

As I have said, Irvine is world-famous as a safe place to live and raise our families, but it won’t stay that way unless Irvine motorists make a conscious decision to reject distracted driving, obey stop signs, and respect pedestrians’ right-of-way.

It’s not just our reputation as America’s safest city that is on the line.  Our lives, and the lives of our children, are at stake.

Press Conference on Recent Anti-Semitic Vandalism in Irvine (Updated with Video)

The City of Irvine, in partnership with the Irvine Police Department and the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), will hold a press conference on Friday, November 2, 2018, beginning at 10:00 a.m. on the recent anti-Semitic vandalism at Beth Jacob Synagogue in Irvine.

The press conference will be held at the Irvine Civic Center Plaza, 1 Civic Center Plaza, Irvine, CA 92606.

Among those who will speak: Mayor Wagner, Police Chief Hamel, Rabbi Yisroel Ciner, Beth Jacob Congregation, and Peter Levi, Regional Director, ADL.

City staff has also reached out to other community and faith leaders.

Irvine will always stand strong against intolerance and stand up for our neighbors. We are committed to preserving the peace in our wonderfully diverse community and keeping every resident of Irvine safe and secure.

For more information, contact Craig Reem, Director of Public Affairs and Communications, City of Irvine at 949-724-6077.

RELATED:

Irvine Police Respond Quickly to Anti-Semitic Graffiti and Other Hate Vandalism at Irvine Valley College

Irvine Will Stand Strong Against Intolerance and Stand Up for Our Neighbors

UPDATE: 

The Anti-Defamation League announced a $5,000 reward for information that leads to the arrest of the hate crime criminal or criminals.

Video of the Press Conference: 

 

 

 

Irvine Police Respond Quickly to Anti-Semitic Graffiti and Other Hate Vandalism at Irvine Valley College

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Two days ago I learned that restrooms at Irvine Valley College had recently been defaced with anti-Semitic graffiti (swastikas).

I immediately relayed this information to Irvine Police Chief Mike Hamel.

Irvine Police Chief Mike Hamel

Chief Hamel assured me that the Irvine Police Department would investigate and get back to me ASAP.

Here is the email about the incident that the Irvine Police Department sent today to the Mayor and the City Council:

Mayor and City Council,

Recently, the Irvine Police Department became aware of an incident at Irvine Valley College (IVC) in which anti-Jewish sentiments were the subject of graffiti on campus. Additionally, there was an incident in which fliers for a Muslim group were defaced.

The Irvine Police Department is working closely with IVC campus police and administration to investigate these incidents. To address concerns on campus related to these incidents, IVC will release the following statement from Chief Hamel today.

The statement will be distributed to students, faculty and staff.

There have been no media inquiries related to this incident.

The Irvine Police Department has been made aware of recent incidents of graffiti vandalism on campus, as well as the defacing of college club fliers. IPD is working closely with the Irvine Valley College Police Department to thoroughly investigate these incidents. The Irvine Police Department has long supported IVC campus police in the goal of providing a safe campus for staff, students and visitors. As partners in law enforcement, IPD provides additional resources in support of campus police whenever we are called upon, including these recent incidents. 

The Irvine Police Department stands with President Roquemore, the Irvine Valley College Administration, Chief Meyer and IVC campus police in condemning any acts of vandalism or defacement on campus, especially those that may appear to be directed at specific groups.  We recognize that Irvine Valley College is committed to providing an academic and work environment that respects the dignity of all individuals in the spirit of a diverse, vibrant and all-inclusive campus community.

I am committed to continuing IPD’s close collaboration with IVC campus police to maintain the highest levels of safety on campus. Remember that we rely on you, the members of the IVC community, to be our eyes and ears on campus. If you see something suspicious, please immediately report it to campus police at 949-451-5234. You can also call the Irvine Police Department at 949-724-7000. In an emergency, always dial 9-1-1.

 The Irvine Police Department and IVC campus police will provide updates on these incidents in the event of any new developments that we are able to share. If you have further concerns about this case and wish to communicate with IPD directly, please contact Operations Commander Noelle Smiley at 949-724-7025 or nsmiley@cityofirvine.org

Please rest assured that while these recent incidents are disturbing, we are not aware of any imminent danger to the IVC community or the City as a result of this activity.

Yours in partnership,

 Chief Mike Hamel

Irvine Police Department

Contact:

Kim Mohr, Communications Manager, Irvine Police Department

949-724-7112 (o) 949-299-6887 (c) | 1 Civic Center Plaza, Irvine, CA 92606 | kmohr@cityofirvine.org

Thank you, Chief Hamel and the Irvine Police Department, for your swift response and commitment to keeping all of Irvine safe.

RELATED:

Irvine Will Stand Strong against Intolerance and Stand Up for Our Neighbors

Meet Your Irvine Police Officers at Coffee with a Cop!

Join Irvine Police Department personnel on Thursday, November 8, 2018, for a cup of coffee at Starbucks in the Los Olivos Marketplace.

Our Police Department not only keeps us the Safest City in America, it also helps to keep us among most welcoming to diversity.

As our Police Chief Mike Hamel has said, “One of the best things about Irvine is that we are dynamic and diverse. We are made up of people from cultures and countries all over the world, but this also means that various community groups may have specific and unique needs. We are here to do all we can to help address your needs.  It doesn’t matter where you come from, your lifestyle, what language you speak or what religion you practice, we are your police department and we are here for you.”

“Coffee with a Cop!” is a chance to meet our Irvine police officers and get your public safety questions answered in a relaxed environment.

Kids are welcome! Stop by any time between 7:30 a.m. and 9:00 a.m.

WHAT: Coffee with a Cop!

WHERE: Starbucks in the Los Olivos Marketplace, 8539 Irvine Center Drive, Irvine, California 92618.

WHEN: Thursday, November 8, 2018, 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m.  Join us at any time during this two-hour event.

WHO: This is a kid and family-friendly event. All ages are welcome!

COST: Free.

See the “Coffee with a Cop?” Facebook event page here.