San Jose senator aims to make ‘red flag’ gun laws well-known in California’s workplaces


SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — In the aftermath of the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, and other mass shootings around the country, California was the first state to enhance its Gun Violence Restraining Orders. 

Instead of just law enforcement, they allow family members, employers and, by extension, employees to “red flag” people who give hints of mental illness or violent intent and allows their guns to be confiscated. 

California’s red flag restraining order enhancement took effect in September of 2020.

Red flag gun laws have been upheld in federal courts because there is due process before a judge and gun confiscations are temporary. 

But Sen. Dave Cortese, D-San Jose, said he got a rude awakening when he talked to people at a vigil for the San Jose mass shooting victims. 

“What about these red flag laws? I didn’t know about them,” Sen. Cortese told FOX40. “Well, if the public doesn’t know about them and they’re designed to get the public to speak up, then that’s a problem.”

While the use of restraining orders has gone up, Cortese is working on ways to make sure they are used as intended — perhaps beginning with larger state agency workplaces where lawmakers have more authority. 

The senator is developing legislation with the Santa Clara District Attorney’s Office that will increase red flag education and awareness programs for employers and employees. 

San Jose gunman Samuel Cassidy reportedly told his ex-wife that he hated his job and wanted to kill people. 

While there is no guarantee whether invoking the state’s red flag gun law would have prevented the San Jose shooting, Cortese said turning a blind eye should not be the norm.

“Employees tiptoeing around somebody. ‘Hey nobody likes him, he doesn’t like anyone else. Leave him to his own locker, don’t bother him,’” he said. “It’s just as wrong to sidestep somebody exhibiting mental health issues as it would be to not put on your seat belt or to smoke in a closed room in a public place.”

The San Jose senator said it will take no less than a culture change for people to seriously look at the relationship between mental health and guns. He said it should be second nature.

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