A Riverside County lawmaker said Monday that a bill she proposed to crack down on individuals who threaten acts of violence against schools and places of worship could prevent “horrific acts” like the mass shooting in Parkland, Florida.
“Last month in Florida, we saw what happens when action is not taken when a violent threat is made against a school,” said Assemblywoman Melissa Melendez, R-Lake Elsinore. “Stricter gun laws alone will not prevent future tragedies from happening.”
Melendez introduced AB 2768 two days after the Feb. 14 killing spree at Stoneman Douglas High School.
The legislation would add a provision to existing law, which only addresses criminal or terrorist threats made against individuals, so that a felony or misdemeanor charge could be filed against “any person who willfully threatens to commit a crime that will result in death or great bodily injury to persons at any school or place of religious worship.”
According to the proposal, the manner in which a threat is made would include email messages, social media posts, in-person and other means of communication.
A charge could be justified “even if there is no intent of actually carrying out” the threat, as long as it is “specific as to convey a gravity of purpose and an immediate prospect of the execution of the threat, and thereby causes the administration of that school or place of religious worship reasonably to be in sustained fear for its safety.”
The bill is currently under review by the Assembly Committee on Public Safety, where it has undergone at least one revision.
“If we truly want to prevent horrific acts, then we must be vigilant and proactive in identifying mental illness and people wishing to cause harm,” Melendez said. “If the signs are there, inaction should not be an option. The price is a matter of life and death.”
Riverside County District Attorney Mike Hestrin and his staff aided in authoring AB 2768.
“I thank Assemblywoman Melendez for taking action to help prevent school shootings,” Hestrin said. “This measure is a significant step in the right direction as we strive to protect the most vulnerable among us.”