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Know the Laws: California

UPDATED August 7, 2017

Gun Violence Restraining Orders

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A gun violence restraining order restricts a respondent's access to guns in certain situations to protect him/her and others.

Basic info

back to topWhat is a gun violence restraining order?

A gun violence restraining order is a civil court order that prohibits an individual (called the respondent) from having firearms or ammunition in his/her custody or control or from or attempting to purchase or receive a firearm or ammunition. 

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back to topWho can file for a gun violence restraining order?

You can file for a gun violence restraining order if you are the respondent’s immediate family member.*  You are considered an immediate family member if you are the respondent’s:

  • spouse (including a common law spouse if established in a state that recognizes common law marriage);
  • domestic partner;
  • parent;
  • child;
  • second-degree relative (such as an uncle, aunt, nephew, niece, grandparent, grandchild, etc.); or
  • household member who regularly lived in the respondent’s household within the previous 6 months before filing.**

Law enforcement officers can also request an emergency gun violence restraining order.***  Note: You can request that a law enforcement officer file a petition even if you are not the respondent’s immediate family member.

* Cal. Penal Code § 18105(a)(1),(2)
** Cal. Penal Code § 422.4(b)(3)
*** Cal Penal Code § 18105(a)(1)

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back to topWhat types of gun violence restraining orders are there? How long do they last?

There are two types of gun violence restraining orders: emergency (ex parte) gun violence restraining orders and gun violence restraining orders issued after notice and a hearing.

Emergency (ex parte) Gun Violence Restraining Order - Law enforcement officers or the respondent’s immediate family member can file a petition to request that the judge issue an emergency ex parte gun violence restraining order.*  The respondent does not need to be in the courtroom or have notice of the case for the judge to issue an emergency ex parte order.  Emergency ex parte orders last for up to 21 days.**

To issue an emergency ex parte gun violence restraining order, the judge must find that:

  • the respondent poses a significant danger of causing personal injury to himself/herself or another person by having in his/her custody or control, owning, purchasing, possessing, or receiving a firearm or ammunition; and
  • a gun violence restraining order is necessary to prevent personal injury to the respondent, you, or another person because less restrictive methods either have been tried and did not work or are inappropriate for the circumstances.***

Gun Violence Restraining Order after Notice and Hearing - Before the emergency ex parte order expires, the court sets a date for a hearing at which the respondent has the opportunity to be present and object to the order being issued.  If the judge issues a gun violence restraining order after the respondent has notice and the opportunity to appear, the judge can issue the order for one year.****

* Cal. Penal Code § 18150(a)(1)
** Cal. Penal Code §§ 18125(a),(b); 18165
*** Cal. Penal Code § 18125(a)(2)
**** Cal. Penal Code § 18175(d)

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back to topHow can a gun violence restraining order help me?

A gun violence restraining order can require that the respondent:

  • not have a gun or ammunition;
  • not buy or attempt to buy a gun or ammunition; and
  • turn in any guns and ammunition to the police or sell them to (or store them with) a licensed gun dealer.*

* Cal. Penal Code §§ 18100; 18125(b); Petition for Firearms Restraining Order

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