Americas News

Attorney General Bonta reports success of gun violence prevention campaign

By Cesar Antonio Nucum Jr.

SACRAMENTO – California is making big headway in its campaign to prevent gun violence but much more has to be made.

The success of the state’s gun violence prevention is highlighted in a report from the California Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Office of Gun Violence Prevention released by the Office of California Attorney General Rob Bonta.

The report provides an in-depth look at California’s measures that can prevent gun violence by restricting a violent, abusive, or dangerous individual’s access to firearms.

The report also provides a guide to the unique features and differences between each type of protection order to ensure that survivors and other stakeholders understand the full range of options available in our state and can determine which process may be most protective for their circumstances. 

“We hope this report will send a clear message to lawmakers, advocates, community organizations, other states, and anyone interested in seriously addressing the gun violence crisis: Protection orders save lives,”  Bonta said.

 “California has a strong safety toolkit. And when we equip people with information about this complete range of protection orders, we empower them to choose the most impactful responses to protect themselves and their loved ones. These interventions are all vital to preventing gun violence and can serve as a model for other states,” Bonta added.

The report also provides new data regarding protection orders issued with firearm provisions in California to document the role each of these processes plays in preventing gun violence in our state, including an analysis of the number of Gun Violence Restraining Orders (GVROs) issued in each county.  

“California’s strong gun safety laws lead the nation, ensuring that guns don’t fall into dangerous hands. But, make no mistake, there’s so much more we can — and must —do to make sure Californians understand how to utilize our gun safety laws to keep their families and communities safe,” said Cassandra Whetstone, a volunteer with Moms Demand Action in Sacramento.  

Over the last 30 years, California has reduced its gun violence rate compared to the rest of the United States; once 50% above average, California’s firearm homicide rate is now 33% below the rest of the United States. Additionally, if the firearm mortality rate in the rest of the United States had matched California’s between 2013-2022, there would have been nearly 140,000 fewer firearm-related deaths nationwide in that decade alone.

Ivan Garcia, Brady’s Team ENOUGH Executive Council, said “the California Office of Gun Violence Prevention and the Attorney General have been vital voices for prioritizing public health and safety for the Golden State and for setting the agenda for action in states across the country.”

“Brady and Brady’s Team ENOUGH youth advocates are grateful to Attorney General Bonta for his partnership and leadership to change California’s laws, the gun industry, and our state’s culture surrounding firearms. With the release of this report, we can finally see the results of the solutions that are fighting this epidemic daily so we may continue to forge ahead to a future free from gun violence,” Garcia added.
“Today’s report highlights the robust array of protections from gun violence afforded to Californians,” echoed Mike McLively, GIFFORDS Center for Violence Intervention Policy Director. “We look forward to continuing to partner with Attorney General Bonta and the California State Legislature to improve and perfect California’s nation-leading gun safety laws.”
Highlights from the data report include:
Statewide, the number of California protection orders issued with provisions limiting a respondent’s access to firearms and other weapons increased by 20% between 2020 and 2023.
More survivors are obtaining longer-term final protection orders that can last for multiple years instead of days or weeks: The number of final protection orders issued with firearm provisions by California civil courts increased by 25% from 2020 to 2023.
There have been especially significant increases in utilization of the Gun Violence Restraining Order (GVRO). The number of GVROs issued per year in California more than doubled from 2020 to 2023 (increasing by 118%) and nearly doubled from 2021 to 2023 (increasing by 96%). This underscores the impact of recent state and local investments focused on training and educating stakeholders about this process.
There is significant variation in utilization of the GVRO across California’s counties. Of the 8,988 GVROs issued statewide from 2016 to 2023, 44% were issued in just two of California’s 58 counties, San Diego and Santa Clara. Of the 2,071 longer-term final GVROs issued statewide from 2016-2023, 35% were issued in San Diego County alone.
Criminal Protective Orders, Domestic Violence Restraining Orders, Emergency Protective Orders, and Civil Harassment Restraining Orders are by far the most common types of protection orders issued with firearm provisions in California. While the GVRO plays an essential role in preventing gun violence, 99% of all protection orders issued with firearm provisions in 2023 were orders other than GVROs.
California DOJ’s Office of Gun Violence Prevention was launched by Attorney General Bonta in 2022. The office, dedicated to developing strategies and working with stakeholders statewide to address the gun violence epidemic, is the first in the nation established within an attorney general’s office. Last year, the office published two data and policy reports on The Impact of Gun Violence in California and the intersection of Domestic Violence and Firearms.