As states grapple with how to prevent mass killings like the ones in Newtown, Ct., and near the University of California Santa Barbara, some are eyeing at a gun seizure law pioneered in Connecticut 15 years ago, says the Associated Press. It allows judges to order guns temporarily seized after police present evidence that a person is a danger to themselves or others. A court hearing must be held within 14 days on whether to return the guns or authorize the state to hold them for up to a year. The 1999 law, the first in the U.S., responded to the killings of four managers at the Connecticut Lottery offices by a disgruntled employee with a history of psychiatric problems.
Indiana is the only other state with such a law, passed in 2005 after an Indianapolis police officer was shot to death by a mentally ill man. California and New Jersey are considering similar statutes, proposed after the killings of six people and wounding of 13 others near the University of California, Santa Barbara by a mentally ill man who had posted threatening videos on YouTube. Michael Lawlor, Connecticut’s undersecretary for criminal justice planning and policy, believes the state’s gun seizure law could have prevented the killings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012 if police had been made aware that gunman adam Lanza had mental health problems and access to his mother’s legally owned guns. “That’s the kind of situation where you see the red flags and the warning signs are there, you do something about it,” Lawlor said. Rachel Baird, a Connecticut lawyer who has represented many gun owners, said one of the biggest problems with the state’s law is that police are abusing it.