Attorney General Bonta’s Office of Gun Violence Prevention Issues Report on California’s Nine Court Protection Orders to Prevent Gun Violence

Thursday, June 6, 2024
Contact: (916) 210-6000,

SACRAMENTO — California Attorney General Rob Bonta today released a report from the California Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Office of Gun Violence Prevention that provides an in-depth look at California’s uniquely broad array of nine court protection order processes that can prevent gun violence by restricting a violent, abusive, or dangerous individual’s access to firearms. The report provides a guide to the unique features and differences between each type of protection order to ensure that survivors and other stakeholders understand the full range of options available in our state and can determine which process may be most protective for their circumstances.  

The report also provides new data regarding protection orders issued with firearm provisions in California to document the role each of these processes plays in preventing gun violence in our state, including an analysis of the number of Gun Violence Restraining Orders (GVROs) issued in each county. The report finds that after concerning declines in the number of survivors petitioning for protection orders during the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a substantial rebound and year-over-year increase in utilization of all nine court protection order processes with firearm provisions in California, especially longer-term final protection orders and GVROs. This increased protection order utilization has correlated with substantial reductions in gun violence in California.  

“We hope this report will send a clear message to lawmakers, advocates, community organizations, other states, and anyone interested in seriously addressing the gun violence crisis: Protection orders save lives,” said Attorney General Rob Bonta. “California has led the way by providing multiple protection order options to protect survivors and disarm individuals perpetrating violence and abuse. We have a strong safety toolkit. And when we equip people with information about this complete range of protection orders, we empower them to choose the most impactful responses to protect themselves and their loved ones. These interventions are all vital to preventing gun violence and can serve as a model for other states.”

“California’s strong gun safety laws lead the nation, ensuring that guns don’t fall into dangerous hands. But, make no mistake, there’s so much more we can — and must —do to make sure Californians understand how to utilize our gun safety laws to keep their families and communities safe,” said Cassandra Whetstone, a volunteer with Moms Demand Action in Sacramento. “We thank the Attorney General’s office for their leadership and commitment to ending gun violence and we look forward to working together to protect California families from senseless acts of gun violence.” 

“The California Office of Gun Violence Prevention and the Attorney General have been vital voices for prioritizing public health and safety for the Golden State and for setting the agenda for action in states across the country," said Ivan Garcia, Brady’s Team ENOUGH Executive Council. "Brady and Brady’s Team ENOUGH youth advocates are grateful to Attorney General Bonta for his partnership and leadership to change California’s laws, the gun industry, and our state’s culture surrounding firearms. With the release of this report, we can finally see the results of the solutions that are fighting this epidemic daily so we may continue to forge ahead to a future free from gun violence."

“Today’s report highlights the robust array of protections from gun violence afforded to Californians,” said Mike McLively, GIFFORDS Center for Violence Intervention Policy Director. “We commend Attorney General Bonta for his tireless efforts to make California safer for all and look forward to continuing to partner with him and the California State Legislature to improve and perfect California’s nation-leading gun safety laws.” 

In California, the nine protection order options available to disarm a violent, abusive, or dangerous individual are:

  • Gun Violence Restraining Orders: For law enforcement, family members, intimate partners, employers, and other eligible petitioners seeking court orders to suspend a person’s legal access to firearms and other weapons because they are a significant danger to themselves or others. 
  • Domestic Violence Restraining Orders: For survivors of violence, threats, and other abusive and harmful conduct who need protection from a current or former intimate partner, close family member, or household member.
  • Elder or Dependent Adult Abuse Restraining Orders: For survivors of violence, threats, and other abusive and harmful conduct who are at least 65 years old, or have certain mental or physical limitations, and who need protection from someone who harmed or abused them. Certain other people can also petition courts for these orders to protect an abused elder or dependent adult, such as conservators, guardians, or county protective service agencies.
  • Civil Harassment Restraining Orders: For survivors of violence, threats, and other abusive and harmful conduct who need protection from any person.
  • Workplace Violence Restraining Orders: For employers seeking protections for one or more employee from someone who has been violent or made threats of violence connected to the workplace. Starting in 2025, collective bargaining representatives may also request Workplace Violence Restraining Orders to protect the employees they represent.
  • Postsecondary School Violence Restraining Orders: For school administrative or safety officials at private postsecondary educational institutions seeking protection for one or more adult student from someone who has been violent or made threats of violence connected to the school campus or facilities. 
  • Juvenile Restraining Orders: For people seeking protection for or from a young person who is under juvenile court jurisdiction in a dependency or juvenile justice case.
  • Emergency Protective Orders: For law enforcement seeking immediate and very short-term protection for survivors in emergency cases involving an immediate and present danger of domestic violence, child abuse, child abduction, elder or dependent adult abuse, or threatening conduct defined as stalking.
  • Criminal Protective Orders: For courts hearing a criminal case to protect victims or witnesses to a crime during the criminal case or as a condition of probation or conviction, often in cases involving domestic violence. These orders may be issued at the request of district attorneys, crime victims and witnesses, and by the court acting on its own motion. 

Highlights from the data report, which can be found here, include:

  • Statewide, the number of California protection orders issued with provisions limiting a respondent’s access to firearms and other weapons increased by 20% between 2020 and 2023.
  • More survivors are obtaining longer-term final protection orders that can last for multiple years instead of days or weeks: The number of final protection orders issued with firearm provisions by California civil courts increased by 25% from 2020 to 2023.
  • There have been especially significant increases in utilization of the Gun Violence Restraining Order (GVRO). The number of GVROs issued per year in California more than doubled from 2020 to 2023 (increasing by 118%) and nearly doubled from 2021 to 2023 (increasing by 96%). This underscores the impact of recent state and local investments focused on training and educating stakeholders about this process.
  • There is significant variation in utilization of the GVRO across California’s counties. Of the 8,988 GVROs issued statewide from 2016 to 2023, 44% were issued in just two of California’s 58 counties, San Diego and Santa Clara. Of the 2,071 longer-term final GVROs issued statewide from 2016-2023, 35% were issued in San Diego County alone. 
  • Criminal Protective Orders, Domestic Violence Restraining Orders, Emergency Protective Orders, and Civil Harassment Restraining Orders are by far the most common types of protection orders issued with firearm provisions in California. While the GVRO plays an essential role in preventing gun violence, 99% of all protection orders issued with firearm provisions in 2023 were orders other than GVROs. 

California DOJ’s Office of Gun Violence Prevention was launched by Attorney General Bonta in 2022. The office, dedicated to developing strategies and working with stakeholders statewide to address the gun violence epidemic, is the first in the nation established within an attorney general’s office. Last year, the office published two data and policy reports on The Impact of Gun Violence in California and the intersection of Domestic Violence and Firearms.

Over the last 30 years, California has reduced its gun violence rate compared to the rest of the United States; once 50% above average, California’s firearm homicide rate is now 33% below the rest of the United States. Additionally, if the firearm mortality rate in the rest of the United States had matched California’s between 2013-2022, there would have been nearly 140,000 fewer firearm-related deaths nationwide in that decade alone.

A copy of the report can be found here.


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