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OAKLAND – California Attorney General Rob Bonta today released statewide 2020 gun sales data. The data shows a record increase in the number of hand guns legally sold in the state, and the number of long guns sold last year was second only to 2016. With the increase in firearms across the state, Attorney General Bonta partnered with the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence to call on Californians to utilize the state’s red flag laws – Gun Violence Restraining Orders (GVROs) and Domestic Violence Restraining Orders (DVROs). GVROs and DVROs can help local law enforcement temporarily recover firearms or prevent the purchase of firearms by individuals who have shown a probability to commit violence. Red flag laws can be a proactive tool to help prevent gun violence.
“Gun violence is an epidemic in this country,” said Attorney General Bonta. “We are fortunate in California to have commonsense gun laws that help combat the epidemic and keep the public safe. With one of the lowest firearm mortality rates in the country, we’ve seen our laws work. However, some tools, like our red flag laws, aren’t being used enough. There is something we can all do: pay attention to those around you. If you believe a coworker, family member, classmate, or student poses a danger to themselves or others, don’t wait – consider requesting a GVRO. Doing so could help save not only their life, but the lives of others as well.”
In 2020, handgun sales in California increased 65.5%, from 414,705 in 2019 to 686,435 in 2020; while the sale of long guns increased 45.9%, from 329,311 in 2019 to 480,401 in 2020. The increase is on track with a national rise in gun sales in 2020. Last year, the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System processed a record 39.7 million background checks – up from 28.4 million in 2019. Given the variations in state laws, background checks do not directly represent the number of firearms sold, but they are a key indicator of sales.
Legal gun sales do not always translate into violent incidents, but they are a reminder of the importance of California’s gun laws, including the state’s red flag laws. Family members, employers, coworkers, and school employees can petition the court for a GVRO to prohibit a person they believe is a danger to themselves or others from possessing firearms. 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 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:
For additional information on resources available to survivors of sexual violence please visit: https://oag.ca.gov/sexual-violence.