California Families: What to Know About the State’s Gun Violence Restraining Order Law as Students Go Back to School


This law has potential to prevent mass shootings, firearm suicides.

SACRAMENTO – As millions of California children and teens head back to school, the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES) is highlighting how the state’s Gun Violence Restraining Order law is a tool that could prevent school shootings and gun suicides among youth, teens and families.

California’s Gun Violence Restraining Order law allows for the temporary removal of guns and ammunition from individuals who are at risk of harming themselves or others. This law provides loved ones, teachers and school administrators, and employers, the opportunity to intervene and prevent someone in crisis from accessing firearms.

“While no law can prevent every tragedy, there is a growing body of evidence that California’s Gun Violence Restraining Order law can save lives. That’s why California is making unprecedented investments in publicizing the law and how it works,” said Mark Ghilarducci, Cal OES Director.

In the first three years of California’s law, officials used it to remove guns from 58 people who threatened to commit mass shootings, according to a study recently released by the Violence Prevention Research Program. Previous research into similar laws in Indiana and Connecticut demonstrated that so-called red flag laws can also be an effective tool in reducing firearm suicide.

Gun violence restraining orders not only enable family members, K-12 teachers and school administrators, roommates, and employers the opportunity to intervene and intercept what could potentially be a mass shooting or firearm suicide, they also empower those individuals to prevent a tragedy.

When California’s key stakeholders are properly educated, in a culturally sensitive and linguistically competent manner about the Gun Violence Restraining Order law, there is incredible potential to decrease firearm suicides, incidences of armed hate, and mass shootings.

Californians who are concerned that someone is a risk to themselves or others and has access to a gun may apply for a Gun Violence Restraining Order or learn more at California Courts Judicial Branch of California.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a Gun Violence Restraining Order?

  • It is a civil order issued by a court when someone is at risk of violence to self (including suicide) or others. A person who is subject to this order cannot purchase or possess guns while the order is in place.
  • Once this order is filed with the court, the individual’s firearms are removed from the home to reduce the chance of self-harm or harm to others.
  • Once this order is terminated or expires, the respondent can request the return of their guns. Law enforcement will run a background check to make sure that the respondent is not prohibited from possessing firearms for any other reason and then return the firearm(s).

Who can file one in California?

  • Family members and loved ones related by blood, marriage, or adoption
  • Law Enforcement
  • Recent household members/roommates
  • A coworker, who has had substantial and regular interactions with the person for at least one year if the coworker has obtained approval from the employer to file this petition.
  • An employee or teacher at a secondary or postsecondary school that the person named in the petition has attended in the last six months if the employee or teacher has obtained approval from a school administrator or administrative staff member with a supervisorial role to file this petition.

What are the steps for obtaining one?

  • Contact law enforcement to obtain a petition from your local Superior Court or online.
  • Complete and submit the petition and other necessary paperwork.
  • If the judge issues an initial order, it is recommended that a law enforcement officer serve the order.
  • Attend the hearing scheduled by the court. The hearing will be scheduled 21 days from the date the judge issues or denies the order.

About the GVRO Campaign

As gun violence surges across the nation, Governor Gavin Newsom made historic investments to focus on outreach and education about California’s gun violence restraining order law to communities and populations most at risk.

This $11 million campaign includes recognized leaders in the gun violence prevention community movement:

  • $5 million to the California Partnership to End Domestic Violence in grants to local community-based domestic violence groups for community outreach.
  • $5 million to Hope and Heal Fund for statewide outreach to communities most at risk of gun violence including education efforts, research and multilingual outreach.
  • $1 million to the San Diego City Attorney’s Office for education and training for city attorney offices and law enforcement groups.