California Marks 5 Years Since Parkland School Shooting by Underscoring Actions that Could Prevent Future Tragedies


Newly Expanded Tool Empowers Californians to De-Escalate Situations that Can Lead to Gun Violence and Firearm Suicide

SACRAMENTO – Five years after the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES) honors the memory of survivors and victims from that tragic day. The state honors all survivors of gun violence by reminding Californians about the commonsense actions and tools to help prevent future tragedies.

“We remember those who lost their lives in the Parkland shooting, their loved ones and all survivors of gun violence, as their pain and trauma endures,” said Nancy Ward, Director of Cal OES. “California is leading, not with words, but with actions to protect our communities. We cannot become desensitized to the unfathomable loss that gun violence inflicts on us all.” Governor Gavin Newsom signed legislation that took effect this year to empower more Californians to file for a Gun Violence Restraining Order, also known as a “red flag” law that temporarily prevents someone at risk of self-harm or harm to others from possessing or purchasing guns and ammunition.

Gun Violence Restraining Orders have been shown to be an effective tool to prevent mass shootings and firearm suicide in California. The tool has been used to prevent 58 threatened mass shootings in the first three years since implementation, and no suicides occurred among those receiving the order over that period. Those closest to someone in crisis may be the first to see warning signs. By expanding the list of those who can obtain a temporary gun violence restraining order, more Californians are now able to intervene to prevent a potentially harmful or deadly event from occurring. California has implemented the nation’s strongest gun safety measures and made historic investments to reduce gun violence and firearm suicide. The state has cut its gun death rate in half and Californians are 25 percent less likely to die in a mass shooting compared to people in other states.

Applying for Gun Violence Restraining Orders

Californians who believe that someone is a risk to themself or others and has access to a firearm may apply for a Gun Violence Restraining Order or learn more about the tool at their local superior court or on the California Courts website. The tool is designed to protect personal rights and due process and is not considered punishment under the law.

The State’s Gun Safety Laws

California has the nation’s toughest gun safety laws. In addition to temporary Gun Violence Restraining Orders, they include:

Temporary Gun Violence Restraining Order: California became one of the first states in the nation to enact a “red flag” law in 2016. As of January 1, 2023, California law allows family and household members; employers and coworkers; middle school, high school and college employees; and law enforcement to apply for this tool to help prevent future tragedies.

Universal Background Checks: California requires background checks on all gun purchases and transfers, including private transfers and sales at gun shows. It is one of 14 states and the District of Columbia that require universal background checks.

Mental Health Reporting: California has some of the nation’s strongest laws preventing those with serious mental illness from acquiring firearms. California law requires the immediate reporting of involuntary inpatient and outpatient treatment, as well as those under guardianship. Mental health treatment facilities and psychotherapists are also required to report under certain circumstances.

Age Restrictions: In California, you must be at least 21 years of age to purchase firearms. There are narrow exceptions to this restriction (e.g., an 18-year-old with a valid hunting license is able to purchase certain long guns).

Waiting Period: California has a waiting period of 10 days for all gun purchases. The state is one of nine states and the District of Columbia that have waiting periods and California’s waiting period is among the strongest.

Assault Weapons: California law strictly prohibits assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. This includes possessing, distributing, selling, and manufacturing assault weapons.