Tag Archives: Dr. Craig Renetzky

The Right to Bear Arms vs. Protection of the People

It has been more than 15 years since a shooting at the North Valley Jewish Community Center in Granada Hills left one man dead and five people, including three children, wounded.

Buford O. Furrow Jr. later admitted he had come up with the plan to harm Jews and ethnic minorities, and had driven from Washington State to Southern California in a van full of guns in order to do it. Furrow had been treated for mental illness in the months before the shootings.

Less than a year ago, a 22-year-old shooter killed six people and injured thirteen people in Isla Vista before committing suicide. The man’s parents, believing their son might be mentally ill, had gone to Santa Barbara authorities seeking help, but officers said after visiting him that the son didn’t exhibit any characteristics that were out of the ordinary.

A new California law tries to prevent violent shooting acts like these from occurring by allowing family members and friends to request a court order, a gun violence restraining order, if there is probable cause that gun owners might have mental health issues.

“I wouldn’t say there is so much [looking for] someone to blame as the fact that people might see weird types of behaviors and really didn’t know that they needed to see a therapist,” JCC shooting survivor Scott Engler said.

The new law, California Assembly Bill No. 1014, says if it can be proven a gun owner presents an immediate and present danger of causing personal injury to himself, herself or others, the court may remove guns from the owner’s possession for up to 21 days, until a court hearing can be held to determine whether the gun owner can own or possess a firearm.

“I’m concerned more than anything about the fact that you could have a situation where you can lose your constitutional protective right to bear arms for 21 days before you get a hearing from a judge… 21 days is a long time for a constitutional right to be taken away,” said Cal State Northridge Political Science professor Craig Renetzky.

The Small Arms Survey reported in 2007 that there are more guns in the hands of citizens in the United States than any other country. On average the survey found about 89 guns per 100 people in the U.S., compared to about 55 per 100 residents in Yemen, and about 46 per 100 in Switzerland.

“Here we are in a country where we have more guns than any other nation per 100 people and yet we still have the highest death rate from gun violence each year,” said JCC shooting survivor Josh Stepakoff.

“I think the problem we are facing is much larger,” Renetzky said. “I think it’s a problem with mental health. I think people are committing crimes with guns that they would perhaps be committing with a knife or a hand grenade … I think we need to look at the underlying cause of the violence not the tool that’s being used to carry out that violence.”

In Texas a new law has been proposed to allow a teacher to use deadly force on a student in defense of himself or herself or of other students in the classroom.

“I don’t think parents need to drop their kids off at school thinking there is the potential for their kid to be killed,” Stepakoff said. “I don’t think there is a place for guns in schools and I don’t think there is a place for violence in schools.”

Stepakoff was a camper at the North Valley Jewish Community Center when the 1999 shooting occurred, and he was one of the children wounded in the shooting.

“There is no closure,” Stepakoff said. “This has continued to be a main factor and part of my life for the past fifteen years. The mental health system needs to be worked on and a universal background check could absolutely be helpful … We would have a better idea of who is actually purchasing a firearm.”


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