California’s crimson flag legislation, which permits individuals to acquire gun violence restraining orders (GVROs), went into impact seven years in the past.

Since then, GVROs have been credited with deterring at the least 58 potential mass shootings and different varieties of gun violence in California, together with suicides. At present, 19 states and the District of Columbia have crimson flag legal guidelines, often known as excessive threat safety order legal guidelines.

However what are they, and the way do they work?

“Purple flag legal guidelines are a software legislation enforcement and others can use when any person is clearly at excessive threat of doing one thing with a firearm, however they can not be arrested as a result of no crime has been dedicated they usually do not seem to want a psychological well being maintain or qualify for one,” Amy Barnhorst stated.

Barnhorst is a psychiatrist at UC Davis Well being and an professional on violence prevention. She is vice chair of Neighborhood Psychological Well being and the director of the BulletPoints Challenge, which teaches clinicians how one can forestall firearm violence.

She remembers the times earlier than California’s crimson flag legislation. “When any person was making threats about hurting individuals at their faculty and even threats of suicide, there wasn’t a lot that could possibly be finished,” Barnhorst stated. “Purple flag legal guidelines have modified that. With the legislation, there’s something that may be finished about people who find themselves making threats or have regarding behaviors.”

Acquiring a gun violence restraining order

Gun-related deaths stay excessive within the U.S. The Gun Violence Archive, which tracks firearm violence within the U.S., reviews 648 mass shootings, 20,176 homicides, and 24,090 suicides in 2022

Analysis has discovered that in about 80% of instances, individuals who commit mass shootings or suicide make their intentions recognized prematurely to members of the family or buddies or by way of social media.

“It is actually essential that in case you are involved a few scholar in your faculty, otherwise you’re a involved mother or father, trainer, employer or any person who’s anxious about somebody, know there’s a approach to intervene and cut back the danger. However that you must inform somebody, similar to legislation enforcement, who can act,” Barnhorst stated.

“For those who’re in California, and there may be somebody you are involved about who could also be vulnerable to firearm damage, they usually have entry to weapons, you possibly can go to the Converse for Security web site. It might assist stroll you thru how one can pursue a gun violence restraining order,” Barnhorst stated.

The web site has completely different tabs you possibly can choose on your relationship to the particular person in danger — similar to employer or co-worker, household or family member, legislation enforcement or trainer or faculty worker.

The California Courts web site additionally has info in English and Spanish about how one can get hold of a GVRO. 

“In lots of instances, legislation enforcement can get an emergency GVRO on the scene, they usually can take away any firearms from the particular person in danger at the moment,” Barnhorst stated. “If the decide determines that the particular person is in danger, the decide can proceed the prohibition. The weapons will proceed to be stored away all through the order, which could be renewed after a yr or longer in some instances.”

Barnhorst explains there may be due course of throughout all levels of the authorized procedures. “Individuals who have had their firearms eliminated can seem in court docket to present their facet. If the decide determines they aren’t a hazard, the prohibition could be lifted, and the firearms returned,” Barnhorst stated. She notes GVROs are civil court docket actions. They do not contain the prison courts, they usually do not turn out to be a part of an individual’s prison document.

Amy Barnhorst

It is actually essential that in case you are involved a few scholar in your faculty, otherwise you’re a involved mother or father, trainer, employer or any person who’s anxious about somebody, know there’s a approach to intervene and cut back the danger.”Amy Barnhorst

Most individuals don’t find out about GVROs

Regardless of the potential to scale back mass shootings and suicides, the usage of GVROs in California has been restricted.

One of many largest boundaries seems to be the lack of know-how about them.

A latest survey discovered that just about two-thirds of the respondents didn’t find out about GVROs, though 70% stated they’d think about using one in a high-risk state of affairs.

“The GVRO legislation empowers individuals to play a task in stopping firearm violence amongst buddies, members of the family, co-workers and classmates by offering a software to take away firearms from disaster conditions,” stated Veronica Pear, an assistant professor on the Violence Prevention Analysis Program at UC Davis. Pear research violence prevention and has revealed quite a few research concerning the efficacy of crimson flag legal guidelines.

“Nevertheless, the legislation can solely save lives whether it is used, and for that purpose, schooling is vital,” Pear stated.

For extra details about how one can get hold of a gun violence restraining order in California, go to the Converse for Security web site or the California Courts webpage.


The UC Davis Violence Prevention Analysis Program (VPRP) is a multi-disciplinary program of analysis and coverage growth targeted on the causes, penalties and prevention of violence. Research assess firearm violence, the social situations that underlie violence, and the connections between violence, substance abuse and psychological sickness. VPRP is residence to the College of California Firearm Violence Analysis Middle, which launched in 2017 with a $5 million appropriation from the state of California to conduct modern analysis on firearm violence and its prevention. For extra info, go to well being.ucdavis.edu/vprp/.


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