VTA mass shooting raises questions over efficacy of gun law

Family members of Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) light rail yard shooting victim Paul Megia react during a vigil at San Jose City Hall on May 27, 2021 in San Jose, California.
Family members of Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) light rail yard shooting victim Paul Megia react during a vigil at San Jose City Hall on May 27, 2021 in San Jose, California. Photo credit Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Last month’s mass shooting at San Jose's Valley Transportation Authority rail yard has pushed South Bay law enforcement officials to raise awareness about California’s Gun Violence Restraining Order law.

The shooting has raised the question as to why the law, which is a court order that prohibits someone from having a gun, ammunition or magazines, didn’t prevent this tragedy. Particularly as more details about the assailant come to light, including past accusations of violence and rage-filled outbursts.

One of the major challenges to the law’s effectiveness is that it’s relatively unknown.

"What I’m interested in pursuing is more education for the public about the red flag laws that we have in California," said Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen.

Rosen explained that his office has plans to send out representatives to workplaces and school districts to disseminate information about the measure. "If you think someone is going to hurt themselves or others and they have guns, call the police," said Rosen. "The police can quickly remove guns from that person."

According to a city press release, the outreach campaign is part of a larger proposal made by several San Jose officials to help reduce gun violence, and includes other measures, such as to require that every gun owner have liability insurance coverage for their firearms.

Another measure, which San Jose is the first city in the country to do so, is to require gun owners to pay a fee to compensate taxpayers for the public cost of responding to gun-related injuries and death, such as for emergency medical and police response.

The proposal was submitted this week and will be heard by the Rules Committee on June 16.