Local advocates support red flag laws following anniversary of Isla Vista shooting
U.S. Rep. Salud Carbajal, D-Santa Barbara, announced Tuesday afternoon that he is reintroducing the Extreme Risk Protection Order Act of 2021.
The protection orders — also referred to as red flag laws — would allow family members or law enforcement officials to petition a judge to temporarily remove firearms from an individual in crisis. California passed its own red flag law after the Isla Vista shooting in 2014, where a UCSB student, Elliot Rodgers, killed six people, himself and injured 14.
Rep. Carbajal’s legislation would provide federal grants and resources to incentivize states to follow California’s lead and implement their own red flag laws.
The reintroduction follows the seventh anniversary of the Isla Vista shooting which was on Sunday.
“I don’t need to tell you all that this last Sunday, our community mourned our loved ones who were killed in the Isla Vista shooting years ago,” Rep. Carbajal said during a virtual press conference Tuesday afternoon. “Like so many shootings, this deadly attack could have been prevented.”
The congressman said that the issue of gun violence is “deeply personal” to him, as he found his own sister dead when he was only 12. She had shot herself with her father’s gun.
He mentioned that the mother of the Isla Vista shooter had alerted law enforcement about his desire to hurt those around him, but the law prevented police from removing the $2,000 worth of firearms and ammunition Mr. Rodgers had stockpiled, on top of his detailed manifesto and disturbing social media posts.
“Current law in many states doesn’t provide any way to prevent people who show violence and disturbing behavior from buying a gun before they act,” Rep. Carbajal said. “Think about that. Even if you know a loved one in crisis who has threatened violence, you would have to wait for that violent act to happen before law enforcement could temporarily remove their guns. That makes no sense.”
After the red flag law was enacted in the state, Santa Barbara County issued 21 extreme risk protection orders, according to the congressman, and the San Diego City Attorney issued 100. He said these orders recovered 169 guns, including 16 assault rifles in one case, 56 guns and explosives and 75 rounds of ammunition.
Two other speakers attended the press conference, including Kendall Pata, the local group leader of the Santa Barbara chapter of Moms Demand Action. She said that she, too, experienced gun violence firsthand, with her great grandfather’s suicide by gun.
The gun control advocate said that 90% of suicide attempts using a gun end in deaths, but if guns are removed from the equation, only 4% of suicide attempts are fatal. In addition, she said that 93% of perpetrators exhibited warning signs prior to committing violence, and in 81% of cases, the shooters’ peers had knowledge of the plans to harm others prior to the shootings.
“Access to a gun is the difference between life and death,” Ms. Pata said. “There’s no reason not to pass this legislation.”
Joyce Dudley, Santa Barbara County’s District Attorney, said she is proud of California for allowing “mothers and others who have the authority to get those guns taken away” to do so.
“This important public safety legislation would provide an incentive, which is exactly the way to handle this in a nation as complex as ours,” the district attorney said. “He (Congressman Carbajal) is giving the power back to the states, but at the same time, giving them the power to save lives. They can do this through grant funding, and I firmly believe — as a person whose been in the county’s District Attorney’s Office for 31 years — if California had this law back in 2014, hundreds of lives would not have been destroyed, and with the passage of this law, thousands nationwide can be saved.”
Rep. Carbajal pointed out that red flag laws have received support from both sides of the political aisle and from many organizations, including law enforcement, the National Rifle Association and former President Donald Trump. When asked by the News-Press why he thinks a red flag law hasn’t been passed on the federal level, he said, “I think this has always been a very challenging discussion in Congress because my colleagues on the other side of the aisle have overwhelmingly been greatly influenced by the NRA and it’s almost been unanimous. Luckily, every time that I’ve introduced this bill, I’ve gotten bipartisan support, and I’m hopeful that will be the case for this bill.”
He added that he thinks the ERPO Act of 2021 is more likely to pass in the “slightly different climate in Congress this time around.”
Ms. Dudley closed the press conference with a message for those who attended the memorial service for the six students from UCSB who were shot and killed in 2014.
“We heard (Richard) Martinez saying, ‘Not one more.’ That’s exactly what Congressman Carbajal is saying right now, only it’s seven years later. Not one more. Let’s get this passed … so that another mother, another other, doesn’t have to suffer and doesn’t have to hear the words that there was one more.”