In California, Family Members Can Vote Their Relatives’ Guns and Ammo Off the Island

A new law allows family members to legally vote to confiscate their relatives’ firearms.

By Emilio Hidalgo, University of Texas at San Antonio

 Finals have settled and the trip home has been made,

Time with the family and a head to be laid.

Rest to be had, and memories created,

Hold on one second, guns must be debated.

As we gather around the table with cheer

We wonder if Uncle Richard needs a Glock for the deer.

If you couldn’t guess from the holiday rhyme, a vote for families and guns is legal at this time. Damn, I need to stop with the jingles.

That’s right, as of January 1st 2016, the state of California is giving family members the option to petition courts to confiscate the guns and ammo of family members that they think are dangerous.

And while you may have thought that California was chill because of it’s friendly and star-studded tourism advertisements, this law makes the home of Napa Valley ripe for a robust family feud with faint notes of fratricide.

We know how this argument would’ve gone in Texas: I don’t call my revolver my problem solver for no reason, sooweeeee!

But this new law in California runs the risk of setting a dangerous precedent for the country. At a time when gun control debate is dominating the media cycle and Obama is making executive orders left and right, California is showing just how slippery of a slope curtailing gun rights can be.

Think back to the holidays filled with Christmas cheer,

Watching Netflix with loved ones near.

Laughs to be had and tears to be shed,

Maybe the whiskey’s gone to my head?

These are not the people I want judging my ability to possess a firearm!

The law, more than anything, seems like a Band-Aid on the issue of gun control, because all it does is pass the buck onto family members.

They may know a potential gunman better than anyone else, but that means emotions will play a bigger role in their decision than it would for others. How many of us want grandma judging our ability to practice our second amendment right to bear arms?
The guy in the photo is my uncle, btw. Does he look fit to convince anyone in a court of law about my capacity to responsibly use a firearm? Once he forgot my cousin at a Costco.

And don’t even get me started about our family vote to take away Grandpa’s weapons. That man was in Vietnam! He didn’t fight, though. He was on vacation in 2003 and from what I heard the airlines were fortunate that he didn’t have a firearm.

The question is: Why shouldn’t a family member be able to restrict another family member’s access to guns. (Repeats question faintly: Why shouldn’t a family member be able to restrict another family member’s access to guns.)

Survey says:

  1. Grandma is from a different time
  2. My uncle hasn’t been sober since ‘77, and he was born in ‘65!
  3. My aunt has three children with four fathers. *Slaps forehead
  4. My father is competitive and can see his reign of dominance coming to an end.
  5. My mom thinks I’m still a child and doesn’t understand me.

Now, I may be a little paranoid since I’ve been watching “Making a Murderer” on Netflix, but no part of this law bring me any inner peace.

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It’s not just me, though—my anxiety is backed by the American people. A recent survey found that 44 percent of Americans feel that the government is going to try to seize their privately owned guns within a generation.

Now some of these worry warts posit valid concerns over gun safety. Others, on the other hand, never leave home without their tinfoil hats and will tell anyone listening that 7/11 was a part time job. Some are even members of your immediate family and have the ability to vote.

But it’s not just your blood relatives that you should fear and betray before they betray you. The term “immediate family member” that’s used in the law is a slack definition that includes anyone that has regularly lived in the household with you in the past six months.

And if we’re including roommates, then Dave-O should be thanking his lucky stars we don’t live in Sacramento after the “I didn’t see your name on the Oreos package” stunt he pulled last week. Also I don’t have a firearm. In other news, I’ve become my grandfather.

What’s worse is that the law is counter-productive. It was created as a response to mass shootings, which were clocked in at 372 in the bloodthirsty year of 2015. No prize is awarded for knowing such a horrifying statistic.

Nancy Skinner, a California assemblywoman who sponsored the bill, described the committee’s thought process. “This puts California in the leadership on efforts to stop gun violence,” Skinner explained, “and it gives a very effective tool to law enforcement and families to intervene before a shooting tragedy occurs.”

Josh Horwitz, the executive director of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, added that “Family members are the ones who most acutely understand when their loved ones are in a dangerous situation.”

Now this may be the Texan in me, but I still believe in guns for the purpose of self-defense, and that’s where this law gets in hot water.

It happens that breakups, estrangements and family arguments make up the majority of mass shooting cases in America.

According to USA Today, one in four mass shootings were triggered by breakups between a former live-in boyfriend or girlfriend, the same people who can now move to have your personal firearms confiscated.

The study also found that 57 percent of the time, victims personally knew their killer, and that 53 percent of mass killings are family related. This makes California’s new statute pretty conflicted. It is trying to enhance the safety of its citizens, but it runs the risk of disarming some of its most preyed on victims—family members of killers.

Ultimately, the biggest problem is that this law will put even more accountability on family members for their relatives’ actions.

The parents of mass-murderers are already vilified for their inaction, but placing this kind of responsibility on them comes close to making them complicit in the act. To quote the OG murderer, “Am I my brother’s keeper?”

If you want less gun violence, come up with stricter gun laws. Don’t put citizens in the position of familial vigilante.

But hey, maybe the California legislature just read the wrong results out, and families can’t disarm their family members. That would never happen on such a large stage though, right?