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.

The Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence has written a comprehensive memo detailing the specifics of this important new legislation. We believe the GVRO law will help lead the way to more states enacting similar smart gun laws to empower families and keep communities safe.

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.

2014 California Firearms Legislation: Important Gun Safety Bills on the Governor’s Desk

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The Law Center is tracking numerous gun violence prevention measures that have made their way through the California Legislature this year.  The Law Center supports four bills that are currently on the Governor’s desk to improve public safety, including AB 1014, which would create a new “Gun Violence Restraining Order” procedure.  The Governor has already signed two gun safety bills into law and four bills introduced to weaken the state’s gun laws were defeated in the legislature earlier this year.

The complete text of all California bills can be found at http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov.  For a full description of existing laws to reduce gun violence in California, visit our summary of California gun laws.

For more information on the status of bills in other states, visit our 2014 summary of gun bills nationwide.bills-signed-into-law

AB 1964 (Dickenson): Closing the “Single-Shot Exemption” Loophole –  California law requires that all semiautomatic handgun models sold in the state be certified as not unsafe by the Department of Justice after meeting certain required safety standards.  Prior law included an exception for so-called “single shot” pistols that could be temporarily modified to not fire on a semiautomatic basis in order to circumvent California’s safety standards.  AB 1964 closes that loophole by clarifying that the unsafe handgun law applies to semiautomatic pistols that have been temporarily or permanently altered so that they will not fire in a semiautomatic mode.

Law Center Position:  Support

Status: This bill was signed by the Governor on July 18, 2014.

AB 1591 (Archadjian):  Court Notifications – Under current law, courts are required to notify the California Department of Justice if they make a determination about a person’s mental state which would prohibit him or her from possessing a gun under California law.  AB 1591 will speed up this process by requiring such notifications to be made within one court day.

Law Center Position:  Support

Status: This bill was signed by the Governor on July 18, 2014.pending-legislation

AB 1014 (Skinner): Gun Violence Restraining Order (GVRO) – This bill, which is modeled on California’s existing domestic violence restraining order laws, would establish a procedure to allow concerned family members or law enforcement officers to petition a court for a Gun Violence Restraining Order (GVRO). In situations where there is sufficient evidence for a judge to believe that an individual poses a danger to self or others, the GVRO would temporarily limit the individual from purchasing or possessing firearms or ammunition and would allow law enforcement to remove any firearms or ammunition already in his or her possession. To avoid the potential for abuse of this new procedure, the bill would create penalties for anyone who files a petition intending to harass the named individual or knowing that any of the information provided in the petition is false.

Law Center Position:  Support

Status:  This bill passed the California Legislature on August 29, and is now on the Governor’s desk.

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Tracking State Gun Laws: 2013 California Firearms Legislation

The Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence is proud of the unprecedented progress California made in improving its already strong firearms safety laws in 2013. In response to the Newtown school shooting and other incidents of gun violence that devastate our communities every day, California legislators passed a historic number of bills to help prevent gun-related deaths and injuries in California, and Governor Brown signed 10 of those bills. The 17 bills described briefly below are all the 2013 firearms bills the Law Center supported that were passed by the legislature and either signed or vetoed by the governor.

For a more complete summary of each bill, and other firearms-related legislation introduced in 2013, please download our complete analysis of all firearms related bills introduced this year.

For more information about the legislative process in California, see this overview of the legislative process or the publication California’s Legislature.

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AB 500 (Ammiano): Storage of Firearms in Homes with Prohibited Persons, Waiting Period Extension and Firearm Transfer Notifications

AB 500 requires any gun owner residing with a person who is prohibited from owning firearms under state or federal law to either: 1) keep the firearm within a locked container, locked gun safe, locked trunk, locked with a locking device, or disabled by a firearm safety device; or 2) carry the firearm on his or her person.

AB 500 also clarifies that the ten-day waiting period between the sale of a firearm and its transfer to the purchaser may be extended an additional 30 days if the Department of Justice (“DOJ”) is unable to determine the outcome of a mental health evaluation, unable to interpret arrest or criminal charge records, or unable to determine whether the purchaser is attempting to purchase a second handgun in a 30-day period in violation of California law, prior to the end of the waiting period.

AB 48 (Skinner): Strengthening Large Capacity Ammunition Magazine Ban

AB 48 prohibits the use of “conversion kits” to manufacture large capacity ammunition magazines. It also prohibits the purchase of large capacity ammunition magazines and tightens the definition of “manufacture” in the current law to clarify that manufacturing includes assembling the parts of a magazine.

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GUN LAWS: California and The Nation – What Should Be Done? January 17, 2013

On January 17th, a wide range of views and expert voices tackled one of the most polarizing issues vexing our nation. A spate of recent high-profile massacres, including the shootings in Newtown, Connecticut, has sparked a vigorous national conversation about designing new laws – at the state and federal level – that protect all citizens, including the rights of responsible gun owners. More than 30,000 people die in American annually from gun violence, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The panel discussed the national issues and California’s role in the dialogue regarding proposals to ban assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines, to pass stricter laws to buy and license guns and ammunition, to require gun vendors to do background checks on potential owners, and report sales so law enforcement can track guns and their owners.

View Part 1 and Part 2 of the conversation here.

Location: San Francisco Commonwealth Club Office
595 Market Street, 2nd Floor, San Francisco, CA 94105
Time: 5:30 p.m. check-in; 6 p.m. program
Price: $20 standard, $12 Commonwealth Club members, Free for students (with valid ID)

Joining the Panel:
Nancy Skinner, Member, California State Assembly
Benjamin Van Houten, Managing Attorney, Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence
Sgt. Kelly Dunn, SFPD Special Victims and Psychiatric Liaison Units
John Diaz, Editorial Page Editor, San Francisco Chronicle – Moderator

Read more about the event on the Commonwealth Club’s website.