Why Does the ACLU Oppose Some of California's New Gun Laws?

California Governor Gavin Newsom on Friday signed into state law a bill that enables employers, co-workers and teachers to obtain gun violence restraining orders against owners of firearms that are a potential threat to them.

The legislation, which former Democratic governor Jerry Brown had vetoed twice, expands an existing red flag measure that allows only immediate family members and law enforcement officials to seek an order for a person's gun to be temporarily removed if they are decided to be either a danger to themselves or others.

The new measure—which will take effect from January 1, 2020—is part of 15 gun-related laws that Newsom has backed. The sweeping new package of gun legislation includes a companion bill which ensures that the gun violence restraining orders can span up to five years. The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence has deemed the move the nation's toughest restrictions, according to AP.

"California has outperformed the rest of the nation, because of our gun safety laws, in reducing the gun murder rate substantially compared to the national reduction," Newsom said as he signed the measures. "No state does it as well or comprehensively as the state of California, and we still have a long way to go."

Why does the ACLU oppose the bill?

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), a nonprofit organization whose aim is "to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to every person in this country by the Constitution and laws of the United States," opposed the legislation. The group believes that its enactment "poses a significant threat to civil liberties" as it allows employers, co-workers, teachers and those covered under the existing measure to seek the gun violence restraining order without first allowing the owner an opportunity to contest and make their case.

The ACLU also said the law could "lack the relationship or skills required to make an appropriate assessment."

The National Rifle Association (NRA) and other gun-rights advocacy organizations also quickly moved to criticize the measures. It is an "assault on our Second Amendment rights in the Golden State," the NRA said.

What other significant gun-control measures have been enacted?

The sweeping package also includes new legislation to strictly regulate the movement of firearm precursor parts, including receivers, that can be used to create weapons. The measure was in response to the development of DIY technologies and its availability to those who want to evade existing gun regulations. Precursors are significantly less regulated by the federal government and the threat of so-called "ghost guns" has been a growing issue among law enforcement.

Another reform that Newsom has signed will extend California's one-handgun-a-month measure to also include semi-automatic centerfire rifles. Proponents of the measure argue that it will help deter the trafficking of firearms in the state.

Gun sales
File photo: As the U.S. Senate takes up gun legislation in Washington, DC., an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle is seen next to a target in the indoor gun range at the National Armory gun store on April 11, 2013 in Pompano Beach, Florida. California Governor Gavin Newsom on Friday signed into state law a sweeping package aimed at tackling gun violence in the state. Joe Raedle/Getty
Why Does the ACLU Oppose Some of California's New Gun Laws? | U.S.