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Senator Skinner Urges Use of Gun Violence Restraining Orders

“Red Flag” law prevents mass shootings, keeps communities safe

In a letter to constituents—including residents of Alameda—issued on Tuesday, March 19, State Senator Nancy Skinner noted that gun violence is an increasing concern among Californians, stating that “it’s clear there’s more to do to make our communities safer.” Skinner said the state’s “Red Flag” law, also known as a gun violence restraining order (GVRO) law, has been proven to be effective, but is underutilized.

Alameda Post - Nancy Skinner
Nancy Skinner. Photo State Senator Nancy Skinner / Facebook.

These orders temporarily remove guns from people who pose a serious threat to themselves or others. Police, immediate family members, household members, teachers and school personnel, and employers or co-workers may obtain a GVRO to temporarily seize guns from a person who is a threat to harm themselves or others.

“California’s ‘Red Flag’ law has shown to be particularly effective in preventing mass shootings and suicides,” Skinner stated. According to research from UC Davis, GVROs have prevented dozens of mass shootings in California since the law went into effect.

“This is an issue I care deeply about,” said Skinner, who authored California’s first-in-the-nation GVRO law, AB 1014, a decade ago when she was in the state Assembly. AB 1014 was in response to a mass shooting in Isla Vista, adjacent to UC Santa Barbara. According to a report in the Los Angeles Times, the shooter’s mother had warned law enforcement about the grave danger her son posed, but there was no legal mechanism at the time for police to search his home and take away his firearms. He killed six people and himself.

“Recently, our ‘Red Flag’ law prevented a mass killing at a high school in San Diego,” Skinner stated. In that case, a teen had been making a series of threats against other students, and school personnel alerted police. Law enforcement then obtained a GVRO, according to a Los Angeles Times report and confiscated a stockpile of deadly weapons and explosives at the family’s home before the teen could use them.

“Over the past year, my office has worked with East Bay law enforcement to raise awareness about the effectiveness of GVROs and other firearm-prohibiting orders, and to encourage our local police to make full use of them,” Skinner said. “We’re also planning a workshop for school officials on how these gun violence prevention tools work and how they can be used when necessary to protect students and staff.”

The senator stressed that individuals can seek a GVRO if an immediate family or household member, co-worker, or employee poses a serious threat to themselves or others—and the fastest and safest way to do so is to immediately contact local law enforcement. “Police and other sworn officers can obtain a GVRO quickly and remove firearms before anyone gets seriously hurt,” Skinner stressed. Alternatively, you can petition a court yourself. Law enforcement will then use the order issued by the court to confiscate the guns.

“Earlier this year, I introduced new legislation, SB 899, to strengthen California’s ‘Red Flag’ law and other firearm-prohibiting orders,” Skinner added. SB 899 would make it easier for California courts to ensure that people who are deemed a threat to themselves or others no longer have access to firearms.

“Reducing gun violence is a collaborative effort,” Skinner stated. “The good news is we’re already a national leader in the fight against gun violence. But there’s definitely more we can do. A good place to start is to fully use the gun violence prevention tools we already have in place, especially GVROs. They’ll make our communities safer. We know they work.”

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