Attorney General Bonta Meets with San Diego City Officials, Highlights Success of the City’s Gun Violence Restraining Order Program
SAN DIEGO – California Attorney General Rob Bonta met today with San Diego City Attorney Mara W. Elliott and San Diego Police Chief David Nisleit to discuss the city’s Gun Violence Restraining Order (GVRO) program. San Diego County continuously leads the state in the number of GVROs issued, in part because of the city’s effective use of California's red flag laws. In 2020, 37% or 483 of the 1,285 GVROs issued statewide were issued in San Diego County. The 2020 data on GVROs is now available on the California Department of Justice’s OpenJustice website.
“San Diego serves as a model of how cities and counties can use California’s red flag laws to prevent gun violence,” said Attorney General Bonta. “The City Attorney, the San Diego Police Department, and the Superior Court all work closely together to effectively utilize Gun Violence Restraining Orders to remove firearms from the hands of individuals who pose a serious threat to themselves or others. This is a program and strategy we can learn from and seek to replicate in other cities and counties throughout the state.”
"Gun violence is not inevitable. San Diego is safer because we use California’s red flag law to prevent shootings before they can happen,” said San Diego City Attorney Mara W. Elliott. “Working with law enforcement and the courts, we’ve created a model that works, and we’ve trained law enforcement agencies throughout California on how to replicate our program and save lives.”
“San Diego has taken a proactive approach to keep our communities safe through the Gun Violence Restraining Order program. To date, we have successfully removed more than 1,000 guns from individuals, who at the time, presented a threat to themselves or others,” said Chief David Nisleit. “SDPD has been proud to partner with the City Attorney on this program from its inception to implementation and even providing training to other law enforcement agencies throughout California, in hopes of reducing preventable gun violence statewide.”
“San Diegans for Gun Violence Prevention has dedicated community outreach efforts to expanding the use of life-saving gun violence restraining orders,” said Carol Landale, Executive Director of SD4GVP. “We commend Attorney General Rob Bonta’s commitment to keeping Californians safe and thank him for coming here to learn about San Diego’s pioneering GVRO program and how it can be expanded to all communities throughout the state."
In December 2017, in collaboration with the San Diego Police Department and the Superior Court, City Attorney Mara W. Elliott established the state’s first comprehensive GVRO program. Since the inception of the groundbreaking program, 1,000 firearms have been confiscated through GVROs. Removing these firearms is believed to have prevented multiple violent incidents, including mass shootings. For example, in June, City Attorney Elliott wrote in the San Diego Community Newspaper about a GVRO used to remove firearms from a man who posted a photo of himself on social media holding an AR-15 rifle with the message, “RIP” to his former high school and stating that he hoped to die.
Anyone who believes a person to be a danger to themselves or others should contact local law enforcement. Family members, employers, coworkers, and school employees can also petition the court directly for a GVRO to prohibit a person from possessing firearms who they believe poses a serious threat. Individuals who are in fear of or experiencing abuse by someone with whom they are in a close relationship – such as a current or former spouse, partner, or parent – can request a Domestic Violence Restraining Order (DVRO).
Petitioners can request a temporary GVRO or DVRO from the civil court in their county of residence. A judge will consider the facts presented in the petitioner’s formal, written application and/or at a hearing. Using the information presented, the judge will assess whether the subject is presently at risk of harming anyone. Under California law, orders are granted or denied the same day the petition is submitted to the court. If granted, the subject must relinquish their firearms within 24-48 hours, and for the duration of the order. Orders can be extended by requesting an Order after Hearing. These orders can be issued from one to five years for GVROs, and can be non-expiring for a DVRO.
The application, as well as more information on GVROs and DVROs, can be found here.
Victims of domestic violence who are in immediate danger should call 911. For additional information and assistance call:
- The 24-hour National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-SAFE (1-800-799-7233)
- The Victims of Crime Resource Center: 1-800-VICTIMS (1-800-842-8467)
For additional information on resources available to survivors of sexual violence please visit: https://oag.ca.gov/sexual-violence.
Today’s visit is part of Attorney General Bonta’s efforts to reduce gun violence in the state by highlighting and learning from existing city and county level programs that work. In June, the Attorney General met with Stockton city officials to discuss the success of the city’s Office of Violence Prevention (OVP). OVP’s programs bring together law enforcement, community leaders, and young people — and utilize data-driven, partnership-based violence prevention programs and strategies to defuse conflict and tackle gang and gun-related violence within the city.