Gun violence restraining orders in California, 2016-2018: case details and respondent mortality

Inj Prev. 2022 Oct;28(5):465-471. doi: 10.1136/injuryprev-2022-044544. Epub 2022 Jun 2.


Background: Gun violence restraining orders (GVROs), implemented in California in 2016, temporarily prohibit individuals at high risk of violence from purchasing or possessing firearms and ammunition. We sought to describe the circumstances giving rise to GVROs issued 2016-2018, provide details about the GVRO process and quantify mortality outcomes for individuals subject to these orders ('respondents').

Methods: For this cross-sectional description of GVRO respondents, 2016-2018, we abstracted case details from court files and used LexisNexis to link respondents to mortality data through August 2020.

Results: We abstracted information for 201 respondents with accessible court records. Respondents were mostly white (61.2%) and men (93.5%). Fifty-four per cent of cases involved potential harm to others alone, 15.3% involved potential harm to self alone and 25.2% involved both. Mass shooting threats occurred in 28.7% of cases. Ninety-six and one half per cent of petitioners were law enforcement officers and one-in-three cases resulted in arrest on order service. One-year orders after a hearing (following 21-day emergency/temporary orders) were issued in 53.5% of cases. Most (84.2%) respondents owned at least one firearm, and firearms were removed in 55.9% of cases. Of the 379 respondents matched by LexisNexis, 7 (1.8%) died after the GVRO was issued: one from a self-inflicted firearm injury that was itself the reason for the GVRO and the others from causes unrelated to violence.

Conclusions: GVROs were used most often by law enforcement officers to prevent firearm assault/homicide and post-GVRO firearm fatalities among respondents were rare. Future studies should investigate additional respondent outcomes and potential sources of heterogeneity.

Keywords: Descriptive Epidemiology; Firearm; Legislation; Suicide/Self-Harm; Violence.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • California / epidemiology
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Firearms*
  • Gun Violence* / prevention & control
  • Homicide
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Suicide Prevention*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Wounds, Gunshot*