Saturday, November 28 , 2015, 2:01 am | Fair 40º

Capps, Other Lawmakers Seek Solutions in Wake of Isla Vista Murders

Proposed laws aim to make it easier for families and law enforcement to keep guns out of the hands of the mentally ill

Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara, was joined by other local lawmakers Monday at a press conference in Isla Vista where they outlined their efforts to prevent a repeat of Elliot Rodger’s murderous rampage in May.
Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara, was joined by other local lawmakers Monday at a press conference in Isla Vista where they outlined their efforts to prevent a repeat of Elliot Rodger’s murderous rampage in May.  (Lara Cooper / Noozhawk photo)

By Lara Cooper, Noozhawk Staff Writer | @laraanncooper |

Just blocks from where Elliott Rodger shot and killed three UCSB students and stabbed three others to death in May, local, state and federal lawmakers gathered in Isla Vista on Monday to talk about what they're doing to prevent a similar tragedy from occurring in the future.

Since Rodger went on his killing spree on May 23 before ultimately taking his own life, lawmakers have been working on legislation that would allow tighter gun restrictions on people with mental illness.

A press conference was held on Monday at Walter Capps Park in Isla Vista, where Rep. Lois Capps outlined several bills she's been working on.

Since Rodger's rampage, there have been more high-profile shootings across the country, "and that is just not acceptable," Capps told the crowd of reporters and neighbors.

She said she heard about frustration as well as a demand for action from constituents after the local incident.

Capps said she's been searching for ways to address mass gun violence like what happened in I.V., but also everyday acts of gun violence that don't make international headlines, such as domestic violence that occurs when a person is injured or killed by a spouse or partner firing a gun.

Capps recently introduced a bill in Congress called the Pause for Safety Act along with California U.S. Sens. Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein.

The legislation would allow families to seek a gun-violence prevention order, and would give law enforcement the ability to seek a warrant if a family member poses a threat to themselves or others.

The law also would mandate that law enforcement make full use of all existing state and local gun databases when addressing a tip from a family member or close associate of a mentally ill person.

"There were clear red flags before the I.V. rampage, and yet this assailant fell through the cracks," she said.

The bill is similar to what Assemblyman Das Williams and state Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson have introduced at the state level, she said.

Capps also said she's promoted a mental-health bill, co-written with Rep. Mike Thompson, called the Promoting Healthy Minds for Safer Communities Act, which would strengthen intervention efforts.

Williams also spoke on Monday, saying that before the Isla Vista shootings, family members saw a danger, and tried to do something about it.

"But they were frustrated in that they had no legal tools to prevent the mass killing," he said.

At the state level, Williams' Assembly Bill 1014 also allows a family member or close affiliate to temporarily separate a person from a firearm if they are concerned for their safety, and would create a gun violence restraining order.

A judge ultimately would have to find clear and convincing evidence that the person is a danger to himself or herself or others.

Williams said that on the state level, an emergency restraining order could be obtained on the time frame of a search warrant, but in other cases would allow a hearing for the person to respond.

The firearms used by Rodger were obtained legally and after his family and a roommate had called in identifying a threat, Williams said.

"This is common-sense policy," he said. "Mentally unstable individuals should not have access to firearms."

James Joyce, speaking for Sen. Jackson, spoke about Senate Bill 505, which would require law enforcement doing welfare checks to do a search of gun databases.

Senate Bill 580, also introduced by Jackson, would provide more funding to crack down on illegal gun ownership.

Several local officials also spoke, including Santa Barbara County Supervisor Doreen Farr, whose district includes Isla Vista.

Farr encouraged passage of the bills, saying that even before the tragedy in Isla Vista, she'd heard from numerous families of mentally ill people that had little recourse to help their loved ones.

District Attorney Joyce Dudley formed the Isla Vista Safety Committee after a high-profile rape occurred on UCSB's campus earlier this year, and said she feels that all of the bills put forward will help make the community safer.

Sgt. Riley Harwood spoke on behalf of Santa Barbara Police Chief Cam Sanchez, who also issued support for the legislative actions taking place.

Ann Eldridge, who is a member of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, also spoke, as well as Alex Moore of UCSB's Associated Students.

Dudley said she has not seen the investigation reports in the Rodger shooting, but will in the future because she will have to decide how to proceed with the officer-involved shooting portion of the incident.

The Sheriff's Department has also asked the Police Foundation to review how it handled the Rodger incident. The Foundation most recently handled a review of the LAPD's response to the Christopher Dorner manhunt, and aims to give a review of lessons learned and how to proceed in future incidents.

"That will happen," she said.

Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

comments powered by Disqus

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through PayPal below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments.

Thank you for your vital support.


Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.