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    When Will Enough Be Enough?

    By Assemblymember Phil Ting–

    Gun violence has become all too common in our country. Nowhere is safe—not a movie theater, not a school, not a workplace and not even a house of worship. While countries like New Zealand have taken brave measures to protect their citizens, our national leadership in Washington, D.C., continues to defend the madness and push for more gun rights. In California, we’ve had enough. We advocate for common sense gun policy. Over the last few years, we have enacted laws to ban automatic weapons, limit ammunition and impose stricter background checks.

    One tool has been particularly effective to help prevent tragedies: our Gun Violence Restraining Order (GVRO) law. It temporarily takes away the firearms of someone who may pose a danger to themselves or others. That’s right. We, in California, have the ability to take firearms away from individuals who shouldn’t have them. Our belief is that common sense should dictate our policies, not just outdated interpretations of the Second Amendment.

    Under a GVRO, the initial seizure of weapons is for 21 days, and the order can be extended for up to a year with a hearing and approval from a judge. Right now, only law enforcement and immediate family members are allowed to petition a court for one. But I think more people should have access to GVROs because of their life-saving potential.

    My bill, AB 61, seeks to add school officials, employers and co-workers to the list of people eligible to obtain a GVRO. Since they are more likely to see warnings signs, it makes sense to give them an avenue to take action. We often spend more time with our co-workers and classmates than we do at home.

    Last year’s shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, is an example of where teachers, administrators and others said the alleged shooter’s behavior raised red flags, and they were worried about his access to guns. They were helpless and couldn’t do anything. A GVRO could have been a helpful tool in that situation. Not thoughts and prayers after the fact.

    Florida lawmakers have finally had enough too, agreeing to enact a GVRO law, which is sometimes referred to as a “red flag law.” In fact, fourteen states now have similar measures in place; most of them approved after the Parkland massacre. Several more states are expected to follow this year. We can and must do more than send condolences to prevent gun violence.

    After the Poway, California, shooting at a synagogue on the last day of Passover a couple of weeks ago, we were again faced with the question of when is enough, enough? My Assembly colleagues and I acted quickly this month and approved AB 61 so more Californians have access to GVROs. Like we did after the New Zealand massacre at a mosque, we must stand together for peace and love to oppose hate.

    As a nation, we must evaluate what is more important—the right to weapons or the right to be safe from harm? Like most Californians, I choose the latter because I’ve had enough. Thoughts and prayers won’t prevent tragedies. Effective gun policies will.

    Phil Ting represents the 19th Assembly District, which includes the Westside of San Francisco along with the communities of Broadmoor, Colma and Daly City.