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Santa Barbara attacks prompt action from lawmakers

Students consoled one another during a memorial service Tuesday in honor of the victims of Friday’s attack.

Lucy Nicholson/Reuters

Students consoled one another during a memorial service Tuesday in honor of the victims of Friday’s attack.

SACRAMENTO — California lawmakers on Tuesday proposed expanded restraining orders and new law enforcement procedures to deter the type of violent rampage that left six young people dead over the weekend near the University of California, Santa Barbara.

Two Assembly members proposed legislation that would create a gun violence restraining order that could be sought from a judge by law enforcement at the request of family members and friends.

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‘‘When someone is in crisis, the people closest to them are often the first to spot the warning signs but almost nothing can now be done to get back their guns or prevent them from buying more,’’ said Democratic Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner of Berkeley, who sponsored the measure with Das Williams, Democrat of Santa Barbara.

Currently, therapists can tell authorities when they fear a client is at risk of committing a violent act. However, there is no prohibition on firearms ownership unless someone has been involuntarily committed for mental health treatment.

Another proposal involves establishing statewide protocols for law enforcement officers who are called to check on mentally troubled people.

Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, Democrat of Sacramento, suggested that authorities should be required as part of such welfare visits to check whether a person has purchased weapons instead of just talking to them.

Additional steps could include searching the individual’s surroundings and talking to roommates, neighbors, and relatives, he said.

‘‘There is a lot we can do to prevent these kinds of horrific events in the future,’’ said Steinberg.

Thousands gathered at the University of California, Santa Barbara to mourn on Tuesday.

‘‘All died much too young but it’s important that we do not let the arithmetic of this atrocity define them,’’ UC president Janet Napolitano told a packed crowd.

State senators spent 35 minutes at the state Capitol eulogizing the students and expressing frustration that such rampages continue despite previous efforts to end the problem.

Authorities said 22-year-old community college student Elliot Rodger killed six university students in the Isla Vista community on Friday after posting an Internet video describing his plans. The attacker died of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot.

The rampage came hours after Rodger e-mailed a lengthy manifesto to his parents, therapists, and others, and a month after sheriff’s deputies had visited him on a welfare check after his parents became concerned about his postings on YouTube.

The deputies found Rodger to be shy but polite and left without walking through the apartment or talking to anyone else. Rodger later wrote in his manifesto that deputies would have found his weapons and foiled his plot if only they had done a bit more checking.

Rodger was able to legally purchase handguns under California law because he had not been committed for treatment of any mental health issues.

Steinberg said more money could be provided in next year’s state budget for detecting and treating mental illness.

Upcoming negotiations on the spending plan will give lawmakers a chance to consider whether first-responders have the training and direction needed to intervene in a way that might prevent future tragedies, Steinberg said.

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