Lawsuit Challenges California’s Insane Restraining Order Firearms Prohibition
Article first appeared on Ammoland.com
California – -(AmmoLand.com)- Imagine living in the same house with your spouse for over 50 years. Your front lawn has a sapling that, over the course of time, has grown into a beautiful tall tree.
But the neighbor next door who moved in just a few years ago doesn’t like the tree, so she conspires to falsely accuse you of assault and battery after you refuse to remove it. You get arrested as a result. She then seeks a restraining order against you based on her false allegations, files both a civil case and small claims case against you, and to top it all off, California law takes away your right to own or possess firearms in connection with the restraining order—before you even have a chance to respond.
Think it can’t happen? Well, that is exactly what happened to Richard and Miranda Wallingford. Only their story gets much, much worse.
As a result of their new neighbor’s false allegations, the Wallingfords hired a home-security company to install cameras on their property. Their purpose was to prevent the neighbor from making additional false allegations in the future. Immediately after installation (but before a hearing on the restraining order petition was held), the cameras captured the neighbor making threatening gestures and attempting to damage the Wallingford’s tree. These images were shown to the court at the restraining order hearing, which ultimately concluded that the Wallingfords did nothing wrong and dismissed the petition against them. The criminal assault and battery investigation was dropped by the police, both the small claims case and civil case were dismissed, and the Wallingford’s firearm rights were also reinstated.
This is where the Wallingford’s horror story should have ended….
At the restraining order hearing, the Wallingfords went on record to state they simply wanted to put the matter behind them and ask the neighbor to cease and desist her hostile behavior. That of course did not happen. Late in the evening on the same day the neighbor’s civil case was dismissed, the security cameras captured the neighbor coming onto the Wallingford’s property and pouring bleach on the tree. The Wallingfords called the police, but the police took no action.
The neighbor’s behavior continued to escalate. She was recorded yelling verbal threats of violence from her front yard and making several throat-slitting gestures directed at the Wallingford’s cameras, at least one of which involved the use of a knife or similar cutting instrument. Now in fear for their personal safety, and seeing no other option at this point, the Wallingfords filed a petition seeking a restraining order against the neighbor.
But before a hearing on the Wallingford’s petition is held, the neighbor again files a petition seeking a restraining order against the Wallingfords. This time, the neighbor claimed the Wallingford’s security cameras constituted harassment while also raising the same allegations of assault that were previously ruled on and dismissed.
Astoundingly, the court granted the neighbor a temporary restraining order, resulting in the Wallingford’s once again losing their Second Amendment rights until a formal hearing could be held.
Worse still, the court later recognized that it mistakenly read the neighbor’s petition to include new allegations of assault—not the same allegations raised previously. Had it not made this mistake, it would not have issued a temporary restraining order. Nevertheless, the court refused to dissolve the temporary restraining order until a formal hearing could be held 60 days later.
Upon first learning of their neighbor’s complaint about their security cameras, the Wallingford’s immediately repositioned the cameras to ensure only their property was in the cameras’ field of view. They did so despite the areas of the neighbor’s property also being captured were publicly visible from street.
Although the court ultimately granted the Wallingford’s petition for a restraining order against the neighbor because it found “no legitimate purpose to making a throat-slashing gesture towards [the Wallingford’s] security cameras, or to mooning the cameras, spraying the cameras with water, or other similar conduct,” the court also found the Wallingford’s security cameras constituted harassment. But the court also expressly noted the cameras “have since been repositioned such that they point only at areas of the [neighbor’s] residence in public view, which the court finds acceptable.” Nevertheless, the court issued a three-year restraining order against them—despite no other findings of harassing behavior or that the Wallingfords are a danger to the public or to themselves. What’s more, there was no evidence that the Wallingfords were directly involved in the installation of the cameras to begin with.
As a result of the restraining order issued against them, California law prohibits the Wallingfords from owning or possessing firearms for its entire duration. All because the Wallingfords took the steps any reasonable person likely would have taken to protect themselves after being falsely accused and harassed by a vile and hostile neighbor. And to this day, the Wallingford’s neighbor continues to harass and intimidate the Wallingfords, with no action being taken by law enforcement against her despite multiple 911 calls and the existence of a restraining order against the neighbor.
The Second Amendment Law Center and the California Rifle & Pistol Association are proud to support the Wallingfords in a new lawsuit challenging California’s laws prohibiting them from owning or possessing firearms due to the restraining order issued against them. The Wallingfords, through their legal counsel, are seeking an injunction against the prohibition while the lawsuit is litigated. A hearing on the Wallingfords request for an injunction is currently scheduled for November 1, 2021.
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