LOS ANGELES – City Attorney Mike Feuer, joined by national and state gun violence prevention leaders, today detailed comprehensive efforts to implement California’s new Gun Violence Restraining Order (GVRO) law. The efforts include training pro-bono attorneys to assist family members and intimate partners to obtain from the court the order to temporarily disarm these individuals who are known to be a heightened risk of violence.
"Gun Violence Restraining Orders will save lives," said Feuer. "As California becomes the first state to put this landmark law in place, we will do everything possible to make sure it is effective--here in Los Angeles, and throughout the state."
The GVRO is a mechanism that restricts firearm access on a case-by-case basis. A family member or law enforcement officer may request that a judge issue a GVRO based on the facts that are presented in a written application and during a formal hearing. It allows for the removal of a firearm in a volatile situation even when no crime has been committed or when an individual doesn’t meet the criteria for an involuntary civil commitment for mental health treatment. The GVRO is intentionally modeled in the image of the effective Domestic Violence Restraining Order to assure every subject full due process of the law.
Feuer’s office is organizing trainings for pro-bono attorneys from around California so that they can assist family members seeking a GVRO. Feuer is also working with law enforcement including the Los Angeles Police Department to develop and implement protocols surrounding GVROs.
California has more than eight firearm-related deaths every day on average which accounted for 2,942 total deaths in 2014. Similar to national data, the majority of gun deaths in California are suicides. Suicides accounted for more than fifty percent of all California firearm deaths in 2014. The GVRO law will allow family members to work with law enforcement and the courts to prevent many of these tragedies from taking place.
As in many of the high-profile shootings that have become all too familiar--family members and intimate partners are often the first who know their loved ones are at-risk of dangerous behavior, but lack a mechanism to separate them from firearms while in these periods of crisis. One of the driving forces behind the law’s passage came from the knowledge that the parents of the Isla Vista shooter had called law enforcement out of the fear that he was a risk to himself/others, but were unable to prevent him from getting the guns that he ended up using to kill six and wound seven that Memorial Day weekend.
“Veronika was a freshman at UC Santa Barbara. She was shot to death in Isla Vista Massacre in May 2014 where seven were killed and 14 seriously injured. The GVRO could have prevented this tragedy. It will help prevent future atrocities like Isla Vista from happening. I'm grateful to our State Assembly and Governor for creating this law which will spare others from experiencing the heartbreaking consequences of unchecked gun violence,” said Bob Weiss, Veronika’s father, and a major proponent of the GVRO legislation.
Similarly, this Friday marks the 5-year anniversary of the shooting in Tucson, AZ that wounded 13, including Congresswoman Gabriele Giffords, and left six dead. This was yet another instance where family members desperately searched for ways to separate their son from firearms, but lacked the means to do so.
“When lives are at risk, both those of potential victims and the possible perpetrator, we need a legal method that will quickly assist family members and closely associated people a way to prevent deaths or injuries. What a difference this law might have made to the innocent victims in Tucson,” said Patricia Maisch who at the Tuscon mass shooting kicked the ammunition magazine out of the shooter’s hands as he was re-loading.
“We need to take an evidence-based approach to assure that individuals with an elevated risk of dangerousness don’t have access to firearms,” said Josh Horwitz, executive director of the Educational Fund to Stop Gun Violence. “The GVRO going into effect in California will provide family members—those who know their loved ones best—a much needed tool to separate those in crisis from deadly weapons while simultaneously allowing these same individuals to seek the help they often desperately need.”
Thursday’s press conference was cosponsored by the Los Angeles chapter of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, The Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, the Violence Prevention Coalition of Greater Los Angeles, Women Against Gun Violence, and the California Chapter of Moms Demand Action.
Read about other ways the Los Angeles City Attorney's Office is reducing gun violence.