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Opinion Here’s how states can empower citizens to help combat gun violence

Ian Ayres and Fredrick Vars: California has copied Texas in deputizing its residents to enforce controversial gun laws. They say the state should authorize “unlawful possession petitions” and incentivize private citizens to file them before state trial judges. Ayres: A quarter of the U.S. population cannot legally purchase or own firearms; there are hundreds of thousands of Americans who illegally possess firearms. We propose that unlawful possession petitions would give people such as Courtney Irby another way to protect themselves, they say. The petition could allow the petitioner to choose to remain anonymous and give the subject of the petition the option to turn in their weapons and avoid criminal prosecution, Vars say; states should give individuals more incentive to come forward with information.

Gun bounties are more effective than gun buy-back programs, authors say. They say the California law rewards individuals $10,000 for information about illegal gun sales. Authors: Including courts and police helps guard against private overreach. Gun-seizure orders would be issued only if a judge determined probable cause to believe an individual is in unlawful possession of a firearm.