Senators Skinner and Blakespear Announce New Bill to Strengthen CA’s ‘Red Flag’ Law
State Senators Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley, and Catherine Blakespear, D-Encinitas, announced new legislation today that would bolster California’s “Red Flag” law and other state statutes that prevent gun violence.
SB 899 would make it easier for California courts to ensure that people who are deemed a threat to themselves or others no longer have access to firearms. SB 899 would establish uniform standards for California’s gun violence restraining order (GVRO) law, also known as the “Red Flag” law, and the state’s other firearm-prohibiting restraining order laws. The new standards would conform to recently enacted rules governing California’s domestic violence restraining order (DVRO) law.
“A decade ago, I authored AB 1014, the country’s first ‘Red Flag’ law, designed to keep firearms out of the hands of those threatening violence to themselves or others. California has also enacted laws to help victims of domestic violence, schools and workplaces get guns away from those threatening harm. But too many people don’t turn over their guns as ordered,” Sen. Skinner said. “By giving our courts and law enforcement tools to ensure that guns are surrendered, SB 899 will make our gun violence prevention laws work as intended.”
“We must do everything we can to prevent gun violence,” Sen. Blakespear said. “That means ensuring that current laws are working as designed. Right now, only domestic violence restraining orders require courts to follow-up on whether a firearm was properly turned over as required by law. SB 899 makes this practice consistent across all restraining order types and helps us keep firearms out of the hands of people who should not have them. After all, laws are only as effective as their implementation.”
Over the years, California has enacted some of strongest and most effective gun safety laws in the nation. According to the CDC, California has one of the lowest firearm mortality rates in the nation.
In 2014, California adopted the nation’s first GVRO law, AB 1014, by then-Assemblymember Skinner. In addition, the state has five other restraining order laws that result in the relinquishment of firearms to address domestic violence, school violence, workplace violence, elder or dependent abuse, and civil harassment.
But even with those laws, far too many people who have been deemed by a court to be a threat to themselves or others still have guns. According to the state Department of Justice, there are approximately 24,000 Californians on the state’s APPS (Armed and Prohibited Persons System) list.
In 2021, California enacted SB 320 (Eggman), strengthening California’s domestic violence restraining order law by helping ensure that those subject to a DVRO actually relinquish their guns. SB 899 is designed to help further reduce the state’s APPS list backlog by applying SB 320’s standards to California’s other firearm-prohibiting restraining order laws.
“We applaud the introduction of SB 899, leveraging critical policies that save lives in domestic violence cases and applying them in matters involving violence against neighbors, co-workers, and others, and in cases where someone has threatened to harm themselves with a firearm,” said Julia Weber of Giffords, which is sponsoring SB 899 and sponsored SB 320. “California has a variety of tools in its toolbox when it comes to reducing firearms-related risks and increasing safety in our families, schools, workplaces, and neighborhoods. SB 899 will help implement these fair gun violence prevention policies that prevent those who have been violent from having firearms while a civil court order is in place, restrictions that make sense to the majority of Americans. We look forward to working with Senator Skinner, Senator Blakespear, and other state leaders on this effort.”
Sen. Skinner represents the 9th Senate District and is chair of the Senate Budget Committee and the California Legislative Women’s Caucus.
Elected in 2022, Sen. Blakespear represents Senate District 38, which covers northern San Diego County and part of Orange County. To learn more about the district and Sen. Blakespear, visit her Senate website.