In addition to Civil Harassment Restraining Orders (“CHRO”) and Domestic Violence Restraining Orders (“DVRO”), since 2016 California has a third type of protective order, the Gun Violence Retraining Order (“GVRO”). While Civil Harassment Restraining Orders are governed by California Code of Civil Procedure, and Domestic Violence Restraining Orders are governed by the Domestic Violence Prevention Act, Gun Violence Restraining Orders are governed by Section 18150 of the Penal Code. Unlike the first two types of restraining orders, which require specific conditions as to parties staying away from residences, places of employment and other locations, the GVRO only addresses a party’s right to own or possess firearms or ammunition.
In addition to being a limited type of restraining order, there is a limited class of people who can apply for a GVRO. The class of people who can apply for a GVRO are immediate family members, who could be spouses, parents, children, stepchildren, in-laws, or a former member of the household who had resided at the location for the last six months. There is an exception to this requirement, however, that if a party does not have the necessary relationship with the at-risk party, they can notify law enforcement, who can then in turn potentially apply. As of 2019, the City Attorney of San Diego had successfully obtained over one hundred Gun Violence Restraining Orders, one of the highest levels in the state of California and removed over two hundred and sixty nine guns from such individuals.
Like the other types of restraining orders, an applicant for a GVRO must prove that the restrained party poses a significant risk, either to themselves, or third parties. While the law was enacted to remove firearms from potentially unstable individuals, it is worth noting that this type of remedy also exists with other restraining orders. For example, a party that is subjected to domestic violence – be it physical, verbal, or other, and applies for a DVRO through the Court can ensure that the restrained party relinquishes whatever firearms they have access to through the DVRO process.
As always when discussing domestic violence or potential gun violence, it is important to note that if you are being abused by a partner of any sort, you should stop reading this blog and contact the appropriate authorities. Similarly, if you feel that a party who has access to or has firearms is a threat to their person or others, one should also contact the appropriate authorities. Given the nature of the relief requested, Gun Violence Restraining Orders are serious business, and a serious matter that one needs to be prepared for to obtain the relief that they want. If you have questions about them or other restraining orders, don’t just trust what advice you receive from family and friends, or the internet, but contact an attorney who can guide you between what is real – and what is a dead end, and who will advocate for you to get the protection you need. Contact our office today with any GVRO questions you may have to protect your personal safety.
Christopher Sunnen, Esq. is a San Diego, CA based attorney specializing in family law and bankruptcy law.