Gun Violence Restraining Orders: Alternative or Adjunct to Mental Health-Based Restrictions on Firearms?

Behav Sci Law. 2015 Jun;33(2-3):290-307. doi: 10.1002/bsl.2173. Epub 2015 May 19.


The gun violence restraining order (GVRO) is a new tool for preventing gun violence. Unlike traditional approaches to prohibiting gun purchase and possession, which rely on a high threshold (adjudication by criminal justice or mental health systems) before intervening, the GVRO allows family members and intimate partners who observe a relative's dangerous behavior and believe it may be a precursor to violence to request a GVRO through the civil justice system. Once issued by the court, a GVRO authorizes law enforcement to remove any guns in the respondent's possession and prohibits the respondent from purchasing new guns. In September 2014, California's governor signed AB1014 into law, making California the first U.S. state to enact a GVRO law. This article describes the GVRO and the rationale behind the concept, considers case examples to assess the potential impact of the GVRO as a strategy for preventing gun violence, and reviews the content of the California law.

MeSH terms

  • California
  • Dangerous Behavior*
  • Family
  • Firearms / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Humans
  • Jurisprudence
  • Law Enforcement
  • Public Policy
  • Spouses
  • Violence / prevention & control*