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Office of the City Attorney

Protecting San Diego from Gun Violence

Gun Violence Restraining Orders Protect the Public 

San Diego City Attorney Mara W. Elliott is recognized as a national leader in protecting the public through the use of Gun Violence Restraining Orders, or GVROs. This life-saving tool was created to help prevent predictable acts of gun violence.

A GVRO is a civil restraining order that removes firearms from individuals who pose a threat to themselves or others.

Following a hearing in open court, a judge can prohibit the individual from possessing or purchasing firearms or ammunition for at least one year.

Upon taking Office in December 2016, Elliott began working to establish PDF iconCalifornia’s first comprehensive GVRO program through a collaboration with law enforcement and the Superior Court.

Since the program’s launch in December 2017, GVROs have removed more than 900 firearms, including 50 assault weapons. These gun owners threatened suicide or violence against co-workers, classmates, an intimate partner, a family member, or PDF iconthe general public.

The California law that empowers law enforcement to obtain GVROs was prompted by the 2014 mass shooting in Isla Vista, near the University of California at Santa Barbara. An alumna of UCSB and a mother who vividly remembers the Sandy Hook massacre because her boys were of similar ages to the young children who died there, Elliott was compelled to act in her role as City Attorney to prevent such tragedies in San Diego.

Elliott established a special GVRO team in 2017 that has since trained hundreds of other law enforcement agencies throughout the state on how to use GVROs as a tool to save lives. 

The San Diego City Attorney’s GVRO program has been cited by the Journal of American Medicine Association as a driver of GVRO use statewide and has been featured in the Washington Post, The New York Times, and Los Angeles Times, and in testimony before the United States Senate.

If you know of someone who poses a risk of violence and has access to a firearm, please call the police and ask how to obtain a Gun Violence Restraining Order.

Safe Firearm Storage Keeps Families Safe 

Every year thousands of children and teens throughout the nation die by gunshot. San Diego City Attorney Mara W. Elliott introduced San Diego’s Safe Storage of Firearms Ordinance to prevent these kinds of tragedies from happening in San Diego.

The law went into effect in September of 2019 and requires guns be disabled, locked, or safely stored within the home, unless the weapon is worn on the body or in the immediate control of its owner.

The Safe Storage of Firearms Ordinance keeps weapons out of the hands of children, people struggling with dementia or mental illness, or those experiencing suicidal or violent thoughts who might harm themselves or others if a loaded firearm is readily at hand.

The City Attorney’s Office partnered with Alzheimer’s San Diego, Brady (formerly the Brady Campaign), Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, the San Diego Police Officers Association, San Diegans for Gun Violence Prevention, SAY (Social Advocates for Youth) San Diego, YWCA San Diego, San Diego Unified School District and other school districts to promote the ordinance and educate San Diegans about how storing firearms safely protects children and vulnerable residents from gun violence in the home.