What is a Gun Violence Restraining Order?  [aka: Red Flag Law]

California “Red Flag Laws” allow courts to issue a Firearms Restraining Order that prohibits someone from having a gun or ammunition.

It can order someone to:

  • Not have a gun or ammunition;
  • Not buy a gun or ammunition; and
  • Turn in any guns and ammunition to the police, sell them to or store them with a licensed gun dealer.

The police can seek a Firearms Emergency Protective Order if someone poses an immediate and present danger of causing personal injury to himself/herself, or to another person.  The officer will take the person’s firearms and ammunition while giving them a copy of the order.

Individuals can ask a court for a GVRO if the police (or other law enforcement agency) will not do it. 

Individuals who can request a GVRO typically include:

  • A spouse or domestic partner
  • Parents, children, siblings, grandparents, grandchildren and their spouses (including stepparents or stepgrandparents)
  • A spouse’s parents, children, siblings, grandparents and grandchildren
  • Any person who regularly lives in a household now, or within the past 6 months.

You can read about the laws in California Penal Code sections 18100 to 18205.

Once the court issues (makes) a restraining order, it goes into a statewide computer system. This means that law enforcement officers across California can see there is a restraining order in place.

What a Firearms Restraining Order CANNOT Do:

A firearms restraining order will NOT order the restrained person to:

  • Stay away from you or your family members;
  • Not contact or go near you, your children, other relatives, or others who live with you; and
  • Move out of your house.

If you need protection for yourself or a family member, there are other kinds of orders you may be able to ask for:

  • Domestic violence restraining orders, for protection from people you were involved with romantically at some point or close family members.
  • Civil harassment restraining orders, for protection from a stalker, neighbors, roommates, coworkers, or more distant family members like cousins, uncles/aunts, etc.
  • Elder or dependent adult abuse restraining order, if the person being abused is 65 or older, or between 18 and 64 and a dependent adult.
  • Workplace violence restraining order, filed by an employer to protect an employee from violence, stalking, or harassment by another person.

How long does the firearms restraining order last?

If the court makes a temporary restraining order, it will last until your court hearing (about 21 days). At the court hearing, if the judge grants your request, a firearms restraining order will last for one year. It can be renewed for additional one-year periods.

If you are subject to a GVRO / Red Flag Law get legal help immediately!  Failure to follow the requirements of the GVRO can result in serious criminal penalties.