Gun Violence Restraining Order in California

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Four years ago, California led the way with an unprecedented type of restraining order: the Gun Violence Restraining Order. More recently, in October 2019, the governor signed off on multiple bills expanding the previous law. This type of restraining order temporarily prohibits a person from possessing a firearm, ammunition or magazines in the state of California. It is a type of court order someone can ask a judge to sign if that person fears someone he or she knows may use a gun to harm him/herself or others. Learn about the new changes to the Gun Violence Restraining Order law and what they could mean to you.

Details of the New Laws

Governor Gavin Newsom signed off on the addition to California’s gun control laws after a string of mass shootings. The new type of restraining order came in addition to other bills that expanded California’s Red Flag Law, the law that allowed certain people to request temporary restraining orders to take away firearms from threatening people. These include the person’s coworkers, family members, employers, and teachers. The Red Flag Law used to only allow police officers and family members to request a gun violence restraining order.

The most recent bills broaden who can request this type of restraining order to include employers, coworkers, teachers, and school administrators to file for these petitions in addition to law enforcement and family members. Assemblyman Phil Ting introduced the bill after school officials said they had had prior concerns about the suspect of the Parkland shooting before the massacre.

The signing of the bill broadening the Red Flag Law came after prior Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed a similar law last year. Most of the bills Gov. Newsom signed in October 2019 went into effect on January 1, 2020. The new rules regarding Gun Violence Restraining Orders, however, will not go into effect until September 1, 2020. Until that time, school officials and employers can contact family members or the police if they believe a restraining order is necessary.

When to Seek a Gun Violence Restraining Order

As a resident of California, the state’s Gun Violence Restraining Order legislation may apply to you as someone who knows a gun owner. If you have a relative, friend, student, coworker or employee that is exhibiting red flags for a shooting, seeking a restraining order could save multiple lives and prevent personal injuries. Knowing what these red flags could be and when to act can be critical to preventing these terrible tragedies.

  • Mental health conditions
  • Personality disorders
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Self-harm
  • Suicidal thoughts or actions
  • History of violence, sexual assault or stalking
  • Domestic violence convictions
  • Threats or harassment
  • Substance abuse
  • Access to firearms

Any potential warning sign that someone could be capable of shooting him/herself or others can be enough to start the process for a Gun Violence Restraining Order. One case since California lawmakers passed the Red Flag Law involved a 21-year-old man, who recently lost his job, making threats to shoot his coworkers. Someone filed a petition for a Gun Violence Restraining Order and found that he had just purchased a shotgun and was in the 10-day waiting period to receive it. A search of his home found 400 shotgun shells. This is an example of how seeking this type of restraining order could potentially prevent gun violence tragedies.

How to File for a Gun Violence Restraining Order

If you wish to file a Gun Violence Restraining Order against someone you know, go to your local courts and ask for the related paperwork. Filing this type of request does not come with a fee. If a judge approves the restraining order, the Sheriff will serve your order on the person in question at no charge. If you need assistance bringing a Gun Violence Restraining Order, consult with an attorney at Panish Shea & Boyle LLP for legal help.