Red Flag Law Used in Six Recent Bay Area School Gun Threats

On the day that an 18-year-old fatally shot 19 young students and two teachers at an Uvalde, Texas, elementary school and reignited the nation’s firearms debate, Los Gatos police said a man claiming access to the gun The middle school boy had threatened to “shoot. School.”

Later that day, police arrived at her father’s home with a court order to confiscate any firearms and left with the man’s firearm. This was half a dozen times in the past six months when police in Santa Clara County used the state’s “red flag law” to address potentially fatal school shooting threats.

With Congress set to expand such laws nationally—a bipartisan bill package would mark the most significant federal gun law in decades—the cases offer a window into how and why California’s law was used locally. Is. Police employing their red-flag powers were able to quickly assess and respond to threats, although the individuals involved in the cases did not always carry firearms.

“We believe they have been effective not only in school situations but across the board,” said San Jose City Attorney Nora Freeman, whose office has represented the city police involved in recent gun threats to schools.

Like other red-flag cases involving domestic violence, mental health and suicide crises, co-workers, neighbors, and road rage, the seriousness of the perceived school threats is speculative. Recent cases include:

  • A 24-year-old San Jose man threatened a woman in a random text message on June 1, who he didn’t know describes himself as a “mass shooter” with “rifles on deck.” He suggested an impending shooting at the Valley Fair mall or a school, citing the recent Tulsa shooting and that he would like to “experience himself.”
  • A 43-year-old San Jose State University employee, who has two rifles and a pistol, attacked a patron who found him destroying campus property on April 11. A few days ago, the employee bitten a police officer who had seen him naked outside his house. Mental health crisis.
  • On March 21, a 23-year-old called the principal at Willow Glen Middle School in San Jose, where the man was formerly a student, and threatened to shoot him.
  • A 47-year-old employee in San Jose’s East Side Union High School District who has a handgun got into an altercation with her supervisor on February 15 and reportedly said, “That’s why I think I’m at work. Need to bring a gun.”
  • A 13-year-old boy from San Jose posted a video on social media on December 27 that featured pictures of a military-style rifle and said, “Okay, all the magazines are full, now we go to school.”

A study earlier this month by the Violence Prevention Research Program at UC-Davis found that the state’s law, enacted in 2016 and hailed by gun ban advocates as the nation’s first “robust” extreme risk protection bill, has Disarmed 58 people who had threatened gun homicide. The first two years of law.

Advocates say red-flag laws allow police to quickly disarm gun owners whose comments, actions or social media postings suggest they pose a danger to themselves and others, but at the level of criminal threats. which will guarantee arrest.

But gun-rights advocates say the law takes away a person’s due process. “You can effectively take away someone’s rights without seeing them in court,” said Matthew LaRosier, policy attorney for the Sacramento-based gun rights group Firearms Policy Coalition, which has researched the laws.

Under California’s red-flag law, police, family members, teachers, employers, and coworkers can ask a judge to prohibit gun violence or grant an emergency protection order requiring the subject to keep a gun for 21 days. can be prevented. Subjects must hand over any firearms to the police or authorized gun dealer. The order can be extended up to five years after a civil court hearing.

As of 2019, more than 1,700 eviction orders have been issued, according to the bill’s author, Assemblyman Phil Ting, D-San Francisco. At least 52 have been filed in Santa Clara County this year, compared to half a dozen in Contra Costa County. Alameda County court officials did not immediately provide records.

It was unclear if any of the school threats were issued in other Bay Area counties, although similar threats have occurred throughout the region.

On June 14, officials in the San Mateo-Foster City School District informed parents that a Borrell middle school student had been expelled after police received a report that the student had “photos of weapons and on their laptops”. Was looking at the list of names of students.” Police determined that the student did not have access to weapons.

On June 1, officers charged a 16-year-old Berkeley High School student with attempting to enroll other students in a mass shooting scheme at the school.

Cases in Santa Clara County are making their way through the system. Subjects declined or did not respond to requests for comment, or were in custody.

In the Willow Glen case, the accused, whom this news organization is not identifying because of mental health issues, and his parents do not have firearms registered with them, court records said. He told police that he had been bullied when he went to school several years earlier, and court records described him as a former special education student who was “mentally handicapped but still cognitively impaired.” was able to function properly.” His mother told police that he had autism and “had no intention or ability to become an active school shooter.” He has been charged with making serious criminal intimidation.

At Valley Fair or a June 1 text threat to a school, police traced the texts to a San Jose man who also complained of mental health issues. No weapons were found in his house. He told the police that he wanted someone to listen to him and that he was never going to kill anyone. He was arrested and charged with making serious criminal intimidation.

In the San Jose State case, a temporary gun restraining order against a university biologist expired on May 5. He is facing charges of misdemeanor battery of a police officer.

In the East Side Union High School case, the subject surrendered his guns and did not oppose the extension of the Gun Violence Prevention Order until February 2027. He has not been charged with a criminal offence.

In the Los Gatos Middle School case, the boy’s father declined to comment for this story. But Los Gatos Police Capt. Clinton Tada said the department “takes all concerns about school safety very seriously” and that “it is the responsibility of law enforcement to conduct a thorough investigation and necessary enforcement when concerns arise.” Take action.”

In a case involving another teenage boy in December, police determined that a photo of a 13-year-old girl posted on Snapchat was of a plastic-pellet-firing airsoft rifle. But his father has nine guns, which he told officers were kept in a safe in the house. The boy’s father, who had bought him an airsoft gun, told the police that his son was only joking. It didn’t look like his guns were taken.

Although the boy’s threat did not involve a real firearm, the city’s attorney argued in a court filing that as a juvenile, the boy may still have had rifles or shotguns in California for recreational shooting or hunting. She argued that a restraining order would prevent her parents from holding a gun to her for five years until she was 18. A hearing is scheduled for June 28.

As Freeman put it, “No one wants another Uvalde.”

Staff writers Nate Gartrell and Katie Lauer contributed to this story.

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