Gun Violence and Your Business

Worried that a coworker or employee is a harm to self or others? For 2020, in addition to the workplace violence restraining order, a coworker or employer should also consider a Gun Violence Restraining Order.

On Sunday, March 1, 2020, the Sunnyvale Department of Public Safety (DPS) received a report of a United Parcel Service (UPS) employee sending threatening text messages to his employer. The text messages indicated the employee was planning a mass shooting at the UPS facility in Sunnyvale. After obtaining a search warrant for the employee’s house, Sunnyvale detectives found over 20,000 rounds of handgun and rifle ammunition, numerous high capacity magazines, 5 tactical style rifles, 1 shotgun, 3 handguns and body armor. Several tactical backpacks containing ammunition were staged at the front door of the apartment where the suspect resides.

Why is this on an employment law blog? Well, the issue of gun safety is extremely important to me. And this is a rare case where we can talk about potential gun violence rather than focusing on victims and their pain. It is also related to employment!

On January 1, 2020, AB 61 “Gun Violence Restraining Orders” took effect in California. This law authorizes an employer, a coworker who has substantial and regular interactions with the person (and with the approval of the employer), or an employee of a school, to file a petition for a one-year (or renewed) gun violence restraining order. If a court grants a petition, the person cannot have in their custody or control, cannot own or buy or possess or receive, a firearm or ammunition for a period of one year.

Judges do not award these restraining orders lightly or on weak evidence. They require clear and convincing evidence that the subject of the petition poses a significant danger of personal injury to themselves or others by having easy access to a firearm. The purpose of the law is to reduce people’s self-harm and harm to others that is enhanced by access to a firearm. Judges are extremely thoughtful and diligent in their review, balancing everyone’s rights and safety. They poke and prod at the affidavits that are submitted to establish grounds for the order and the closely review any messages or verbal statements of the employee. “Having a feeling” isn’t enough.  But if there is evidence of a credible, imminent threat, the Court will act.

If you have any questions about workplace violence restraining orders or gun violence restraining orders, contact me!

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