San Diego Is Showing California How to Use Its Red Flag Law

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Publication: Voice of San Diego

In 2018, at a car sales lot in San Diego, employees felt something was off.

In a break room, an employee allegedly praised the perpetrator of the Las Vegas mass shooting, remarking that he was genuinely impressed by the death toll. The man said that he had toyed with the idea of attempting a similar attack, perhaps at a church or synagogue. The dealership’s employees grew especially anxious when their co-worker, who they knew owned an assault rifle, said he would kill them all if he were ever to be fired.

The man’s co-workers called the police, fearing for their safety. Officers didn’t have enough evidence to arrest the man. But they did have enough to take away his guns. Using statements from employees of the dealership, police requested a Gun Violence Restraining Order, which allows a court to remove a person’s firearms if they pose a threat to themselves or others. The order was granted, and police seized the man’s two handguns, two shotguns, and an AR-15.

It was a textbook implementation of a GVRO, which are known colloquially as red flag laws.

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In the California Legislature, lawmakers are also paying more attention to the spread of GVROs. In December of 2018, California Assemblymember Phil Ting introduced a bill that would allow school workers, employers, and coworkers to file GVROs. The bill is currently pending in the state Senate Appropriations Committee.