California’s New Gun Violence Restraining Order Law

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On September 30, Governor Jerry Brown signed California AB 1014, a new law that allows family members and law enforcement officers to seek a Gun Violence Restraining Order (GVRO), also known as a Firearms Restraining Order, against people who pose a threat to themselves or others.

As learned from the tragic Isla Vista shooting, shooters may exhibit certain warning signs of impending violence, but those behaviors may not be severe enough to allow authorities to take preventive action. Those in the best position to see and recognize these warning signs—immediate family members—are left without legal means to intervene. The GVRO law addresses this glaring problem by allowing concerned family members, as well as law enforcement officers, to obtain a Gun Violence Restraining Order, which is modeled on California’s effective domestic violence prevention laws.

If a judge determines someone to be a risk and issues a GVRO, that order will:

  • Temporarily prohibit that person from purchasing or possessing firearms or ammunition
  • Allow law enforcement to temporarily remove any firearms or ammunition already in that person’s possession
  • Include procedures to allow the person have his or her guns and ammunition returned

The bill, endorsed by the Law Center and sponsored by Assemblymember Nancy Skinner, passed by a wide margin in the state legislature in August. It joins a growing number of smart, common-sense gun policies that continue to give California the strongest gun laws in the United States.

Listen to one of our staff attorneys, Lindsey Zwicker, discuss the importance of California’s GVRO law on Airtalk with Larry Mantle.

Read the Law Center’s comprehensive legal memo on the new GVRO law.

Governor Brown Signs Critical New Gun Legislation Continuing California’s Commitment to Gun Safety

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California just got safer, and set some amazing records, too. On Friday, October 11th, California Governor Jerry Brown signed 10 new gun violence prevention bills — a record for the State of California and the largest number of strong gun bills signed into law by any state in the nation this year. We are proud to have worked with legislators and activists in California to support this crucial and groundbreaking new legislation.

In the bills signed into law, Governor Brown and the California Legislature have prioritized measures to promote gun safety and prevent prohibited people from accessing weapons. Here are only a few of the new, cutting-edge policies that will help keep our communities safe:

  • AB 500 will require gun owners living with people prohibited from possessing a firearms to store their weapons in a secure manner. That bill will also give the Department of Justice an additional 30 days to conduct a background check when needed to ensure that a gun buyer isn’t a convicted felon or otherwise prohibited from possessing firearms.
  • AB 231 will help prevent tragic accidents involving guns and children by expanding California’s child access prevention law to allow law enforcement to hold a gun owner liable if a weapon is left in a place where a child may gain access to it.
  • AB 48 will keep gun manufacturers from skirting California’s ban on large capacity ammunition magazines by banning “conversion kits,” which allow someone to make ordinary magazines into magazines capable of holding up to a hundred rounds of ammunition.

And these are only a few of the policies that Governor Brown just signed into law.

Although we are disappointed that the governor vetoed seven strong bills to prevent gun violence, we are extremely pleased with the historic progress otherwise made by the legislature this year. We are proud of the success California has seen implementing smart gun laws and encouraged that it continues to promote effective policies that can make our communities safer. In a year marked with a seemingly endless list of tragic shootings, Governor Brown has heard the voice of gun owners and non-gun owners alike — inaction on preventing gun violence is unacceptable.

For a summary of all of the gun violence prevention bills, visit our summary of 2013 California legislation to prevent gun violence.

For more on the drop in gun death rates in California, visit our publication, The California Model: Twenty Years of Putting Safety First.

Success Story: California Enacts Three Strong Gun Laws

Three important legislative victories were won in California in October 2011:

LONG GUN RECORDS

WHAT HAPPENED?
Thanks to an irresponsible law pushed through by the gun lobby many years ago, the California Department of Justice has been forced to destroy long gun sales records. This requirement has hampered law enforcement efforts to investigate gun crimes and disarm dangerous criminals. The requirement to destroy long gun records was repealed by LCAV-sponsored bill AB 809 (Feuer).

HOW SAFETY WINS
Long gun sales records will now be maintained in a database, like handgun sales records, and will provide a useful tool for law enforcement. Sales records contain important information about a firearm, who purchased it, and who sold it.  This information is critical to law enforcement charged with tracing the ownership of firearms recovered in crimes.

BANNING OPEN CARRY

WHAT HAPPENED?
After members of California’s open carry movement began staging public gatherings at which groups of gun owners carried unloaded handguns openly in public, Californians became alarmed. The California Police Chiefs Association, concerned about the risk to public safety, sponsored AB 144 (Portantino). The newly enacted law bans open carrying of unloaded handguns in a public place or on a public street.

HOW SAFETY WINS
Openly carrying handguns in public — intimidating behavior that puts the public at risk — is no longer permitted in California.

FUNDING TO DISARM PROHIBITED PERSONS

WHAT HAPPENED?
The California Department of Justice (“DOJ”) is tasked with disarming persons who are prohibited from possessing a firearm. SB 819 (Leno), allows DOJ to pay for this effort by using funds generated when firearms are sold.

HOW SAFETY WINS
This will greatly enhance DOJ’s ability to take guns out of the hands of convicted felons, domestic abusers and the mentally ill. DOJ has already identified over 18,000 individuals in California who are recorded owners of handguns and also legally prohibited from possessing firearms.  This additional funding will help DOJ take action to disarm these individuals.