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What is a gun violence restraining order?

On Behalf of | Jan 31, 2018 | Domestic Violence |

Whenever gun violence happens in the United States, people inevitably look back at the shooter’s social media pages and the things that he or she said in the hours and days before the attack and say, “Why didn’t someone notice?”

Unfortunately, the odds are good that nobody could have done anything even if they had noticed. Most states don’t give family members — those who are in the best position to realize that the would-be shooter’s temper is about to boil over — any way to stop an incident from happening. In many areas, police are also forced to wait until something bad happens before they can take action.

In California, however, there’s a unique tool that’s been made available to a potentially violent individual’s close family members and police: the gun violence restraining order (GVRO). It’s one more tool that can be used to prevent acts of domestic violence.

What does a GVRO do?

Unlike a regular protective order, a GVRO does not force the individual under restraint to keep away from any family members or oblige him or her to leave the family home. Instead, it focuses solely on the individual’s access to firearms.

Once a judge has head the family member’s concerns about an individual and determines that there’s a valid reason to act, the police are empowered to remove any guns and ammunition in that individual’s possession. In addition, so long as the order remains in effect:

  • The subject of the GVRO cannot keep any guns or ammunition
  • The subject cannot buy any new guns or ammunition

He or she can store his or her weapons with a licensed gun dealer until the GVRO is removed.

Who can ask for a GVRO?

The law limits who can ask the court to impose a GVRO. The person asking for the order must be the individual’s:

  • Spouse or significant other
  • Sibling
  • Parent or child
  • Grandparent or grandchild

The sibling, parent, grandparent, child or grandchild of an individual’s spouse can also ask for the GVRO. So can anybody who has been a member of the individual’s household within the last six months.

The idea of the GVRO is not to deprive people of their right to own firearms for good. It’s merely a temporary restraining order designed to put some distance between people and their firearms until the situation is less volatile.

Source:, “Gun Violence Restraining Order,” accessed Jan. 31, 2018


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