Senate bill would let families confiscate guns of 'unstable' people

Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) plans to introduce legislation that would allow family members to take guns away from "unstable" and "violent" people.

Boxer said her Pause for Safety Act was in response to the May 23 mass shooting and stabbing spree in Isla Vista, Calif., by Elliot Rodger, a 22-year-old former Santa Barbara City College student. Seven people died in the attack, including Rodger, who killed himself.

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Before the shooting, Rodger’s mother had called police and asked them to check on her son. She called after seeing a video Rodger had posted online, where he talked about women hating him.

Authorities determined that Rodger did not meet the criteria for an involuntary hold, despite having a history of mental illness. He later killed his roommates and went on a shooting spree in the college town.

“We failed our children. Call it what you want, but we are failing our children because we have a basic task to keep them safe,” Boxer said on the Senate floor Monday. “We have a function here not to allow someone who is unstable or violent to get a weapon.”

Under current federal statute, people with mental illnesses are only prevented from buying guns if they have been involuntarily institutionalized or a judge has deemed them mentally ill.

Boxer said her bill would allow family members who are concerned about the mental stability of a person to petition the court for a gun-violence prevention warrant. The warrant could prevent someone from buying a gun and would allow the police to confiscate guns already owned by the person if the court deems the person as a threat.