Random mass shootings, an unfortunate new reality in today’s world, makes it difficult to support gun ownership. However, firearms are traditionally identified with American life, and certain individuals are very passionate about exercising their right to own and use them. The vast majority of gun owners take great pains to follow state and federal regulations that control the sale and transport of these items. California, though, makes it very difficult to legally own a firearm due to the stringent and numerous laws that limit possession and sale, which can lead to many innocent and well-intended individuals facing criminal charges. School shootings, like the recent one in Florida, are hard to comprehend and justify, and many people understandably want to prevent similar acts from occurring again. Since the shooting, California schools are experiencing a higher number of threats against students and staff. California already has many restrictions on when and where a person can carry firearms on school property, and a new law that went into effect at the start of the year further limits who may be authorized to do so. A discussion of how threats of violence against schools, and the restrictions on who can carry guns on school property, will follow below.
In the heat of an argument, as emotions run high, words that a person does not really mean can easily come out. The state does not want to condone people threatening to hurt others, especially in light of concerns about terrorism. Consequently, an offense called criminal threat prohibits a person from threatening to kill or to physically harm another, and requires, in addition to the threat itself:
● the other person is put in sustained fear for him/herself and/or his/her family;
● the threat is specific and unequivocal; and
● the threat is communicated verbally, in writing or through electronic communication.
This offense may be charged as either a misdemeanor or felony, and if convicted of a misdemeanor, a defendant could face up to a year in county jail. If a felony conviction is handed down, the sentence increases to up to four years in state prison, with an additional year added if a deadly or dangerous weapon was involved. Importantly, criminal threat is not an intent offense, so whether the accused actually planned to carry out the threat is irrelevant to guilt. However, the following are valid defenses to this charge:
● the threat was vague or non-specific;
● the recipient could not have reasonably feared for his/her safety;
● the recipient was not really afraid;
● the recipient’s fear was momentary; or
● the threat was communicated via gesture, and not by words, writing or electronic message.
Carrying Firearms on School Grounds
The presence of weapons on school grounds is controversial, to say the least, but until this year, school superintendents for K-12 had some authority to allow employees with an expressed interest and a valid concealed weapons to bring firearms on campus. Civilians were already banned from bringing guns on school grounds, and under the new law, only the following individuals will have the ability to do so:
● law enforcement;
● security guards authorized to carry;
● school-sanctioned activities involving shooting; and
● a person who has a reasonable belief he/she is in serious danger and has a restraining order to keep a particular person away, and the gun is unloaded and stored in a locked container or the trunk of a car.
This list suggests the average person does not have to do much to trip this restriction, and potentially face criminal charges. Accordingly, a criminal defense attorney should be consulted if any concerns about criminal issues exist.
Hire a Criminal Defense Attorney
Criminal issues are serious business, and should be handled by an experienced criminal defense attorney to ensure the best possible outcome is achieved. Los Angeles’ Manshoory Law Group, APC brings years of experience, dedication and creative defense strategies to their clients so the system does not overwhelm them. Attorneys are available 24/7 to take your call. Contact us for a consultation.