California Announces New Details on Efforts to Promote Nation-Leading Red Flag Laws

SACRAMENTO – In the wake of recent mass shootings across the nation, the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES) announced $11 million in new community partnerships to expand outreach and education on the use of Gun Violence Restraining Orders – or “red flag laws” – to families, schools and communities most at risk for gun violence.

“California has set the standard for proven gun safety laws that save lives. Every single day, our laws ensure that gun violence remains the exception, not the rule,” said Governor Gavin Newsom. “Our laws have cut gun deaths by half but we’re not stopping there – we’re connecting with communities across our state to share life-saving tools with the families and people who need them most.”

“California has the country’s toughest gun laws, and they work,” said Mark Ghilarducci, Cal OES Director. “Firearm violence is preventable, not inevitable. Raising public awareness about proactive ways for people to intervene can be crucial for preventing violence before it occurs.”

Announced earlier this month by Governor Gavin Newsom, this 18-month campaign now 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.

The California Partnership to End Domestic Violence, Hope and Heal Fund and the San Diego City Attorney’s Office will work in tandem to ensure loved ones, teachers, or law enforcement know how to intervene and prevent someone in crisis from accessing firearms.

In the first three years of California’s GVRO 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.

From 2016 to 2020, California courts issued 3,007 Gun Violence Restraining Orders. In 2020, the state issued 1,284 GVROs, 15-times greater than the 85 issued in 2016. That same year, California’s firearm death rate was 8.5 per 100,000 — the seventh-lowest in the nation, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“Our office is proud to be able to provide training to law enforcement agencies throughout the state on how to obtain Gun Violence Restraining Orders,” said San Diego City Attorney Mara Elliott. “Learning to recognize red flags for potential gun violence is the best way to protect our communities and save lives.”

This law demonstrates the enormous potential to save lives to reduce violence and death by firearms by helping to de-escalate emergency situations. California was the first state in the country to pass legislation that gives family members the option to petition a court for this order.

“This campaign will ensure that survivors and their families know about the tools available to them during a crisis,” said Dr. Aleese Moore-Orbih, Executive Director the California Partnership to End Domestic Violence. “We look forward to the continued collaboration with local and statewide partners so that we can reduce gun violence.”

Last year, the Violence Prevention Research Program at UC Davis Health released a study highlighting the need for increased public support and awareness about Gun Violence Restraining Orders. They empower loved ones, or law enforcement, to intervene and temporarily prevent someone in crisis from accessing firearms.

“Two-thirds of Californians still don’t know about this law, so It is imperative to step up efforts to fully implement this law that has enormous potential to decrease firearm suicides and mass shootings,” said Brian Malte, Executive Director of the Hope and Heal Fund. This law is a critical tool in the toolbelt that gives family members a way to ensure their loved ones don’t harm themselves or others.”

California’s gun safety policies save lives and provide a national model for other states to follow. According to the Giffords Law Center, in 2021, California was ranked as the top state in the nation for gun safety. As California strengthened its gun laws, the state saw a 37 percent lower gun death rate than the national average. Meanwhile, other states such as Florida and Texas, with lax gun regulations, saw double-digit increases in the rate of gun deaths. As a result of the actions taken by California, 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.