Gun Violence Bills Inspired by Shooting Rampage Cheered at UC Santa Barbara

The father of a victim and the father of the gunman in Isla Vista shooting rampage give nod to gun violence bills signed into law

Returning to Isla Vista is never easy for Bob Weiss, not since his daughter Veronika died here last May during a disturbed gunman's rampage.

But returning Wednesday, something was different: a sense that determination tempered by tragedy had led to progress in reducing the risk of gun violence.

For the first time since Veronika's death, Weiss was able to smile again as he stood in the same park where only four months ago a vigil had been held for Veronika and the other victims.

"It's a happy day today in Isla Vista because we did something," Weiss told a group that had gathered to mark Gov. Brown's signing of Assembly Bill 1014. It enables courts to order guns be taken from individuals seen by family or law enforcement to be in such a mental state that they pose a threat to themselves or others.

Much like the process for domestic violence restraining orders, the ruling could be made initially without the subject being present, but for the order to remain in effect, a hearing would have to be held within three weeks.

"We're gathered here because California has taken a major step forward in protecting families," said Richard Martinez, whose son Christopher, 20, was also slain in the May 23 rampage. He, like Veronika, 19, and the four others slain, were students at UC Santa Barbara.

The perpetrator, who authorities said also used his BMW as a weapon to strike bicyclists and pedestrians, was identified as Elliot Rodger, 22, who died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

In personal videos he posted on YouTube, and in an autobiography he distributed through the internet, Rodger ranted about the unhappiness in his life, blaming women for not dating him, and vowing "retribution."

Rodger's family had become concerned about his mental state and asked the Sheriff's department to check on his welfare.

Rodger convinced them there was no problem.

In his call for retribution, he wrote of his relief deputies did not search his room, for they would have found the firearms he had acquired.

Within hours of the shooting, Martinez had traveled to Isla Vista, and in his grief, demanded "not one more," and challenged a society that has become victimized by mass shootings in recent decades, many of them targeting students, to shake off its complacency about such tragedies.

Lawmakers responded with AB 1014, and a second bill, SB505 that would require law enforcement to check gun registration when asked to check on an individual with mental health concerns.

Both Martinez and Weiss traveled to the state capital and worked tirelessly to encourage passage of the bills. Their authors -- Assemblyman Das Williams, D-Isla Vista, and state Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson, D-Santa Barbara -- both gave credit to Martinez and Weiss.

"Their participation has been enormously helpful," said Jackson. "I expect going forward that
they're going to keep banging the drum that we need sensible gun laws."
 
Weiss and Martinez both spoke of their intention to keep working with the advocacy group,
Everytown for Gun Safety, and to push for similar legislation in other states.
 
Passage of AB 1014 was also hailed by the father of Elliot Rodger.
 
Peter Rodger has met with Martinez and supported his efforts to reduce gun violence.  "California today is a safer state because of this legislation," Rodger wrote in a statement.
 
The bills had faced opposition from the National Rifle Association and others who see infringement on the Second Amendment.
 
"AB 1014 is one of the most egregious violations of civil liberties ever introduced in the California legislature," wrote Charles Cunningham on behalf of the NRA's Institute for Legislative Action.
 
"America's worst gun control bill" is how it was described by Robert Farago, publisher of The Truth About Guns website.
 
Martinez and Weiss disagreed.
 
"A 22 year old kid who's mentally ill being able to buy three guns and shoot people in cold blood and stab them to death -- that's in nobody's interest. The NRA should be on our side." said Weiss.
 
Even as they spoke in Anisq'Oyo' Park, UC Santa Barbara students were preparing to begin the new academic year Thursday. Some stood in the park watching the news conference.
 
The fathers who have been through so much offered encouragement.
 
"Don't be afraid," said Weiss.  "Fight for what you believe in."
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