(Sacramento, CA) – California is expanding its red flag gun law. Governor Newsom signed AB 61, a bill by Assemblymember Phil Ting (D-San Francisco), which gives more people access to a court process that could temporarily take away someone’s firearms through a Gun Violence Restraining Order (GVRO), if they pose a danger to themselves or others. Ting’s law enables educators, employers and co-workers to also use the tool. Current law only allows law enforcement and immediate family members to file a GVRO.
“Thoughts and prayers are no longer enough. GVROs are a proven gun violence prevention tool that can help save lives. With school and workplace shootings on the rise, it’s common sense to give the people we see every day the power to intervene and prevent tragedies,” said Ting.
The Governor’s approval comes just a few months after researchers at the Violence Prevention Research Program at UC Davis closely examined a sample of individuals who were subjected to a GVRO and found none were involved in subsequent gun-related violence. While the study cited how difficult it is to say how many incidents were prevented, it is reasonable to conclude GVROs play a role in reducing the chance of gun-related violence. From 2016 (when California’s red flag law took effect) through 2018, more than 600 people had weapons removed from their possession via GVROs.
Seventeen states have a version of red flag laws on the books. Twelve enacted their measures after the 2018 Parkland, FL shooting. In California, there are two ways a GVRO can be granted:
- For a duration of 21 days, immediately, which can be extended for up to one year after a court hearing; or,
- For a duration of one year, after a court hearing.
For GVRO requests in the latter category, Ting has a companion bill, AB 1493, which the Governor also approved. It allows the subject of a GVRO to surrender their firearms to authorities without contesting the order. Under current law, even a subject who agrees guns should not be in their possession must still go through a court hearing, wasting time and resources.
AB 61 & AB 1493 will take effect September 1, 2020.