Law Prof: Gun Violence Restraining Orders Won’t Deliver Promised Safety

gun control

On May 27, a National Journal article quoted UCLA law professor Adam Winkler saying a Gun Violence Restraining Order (GVRO) really will “not … make a huge dent in our gun violence statistics.”

GVROs were signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown (D) in October 2014. They had been pushed in the wake of Elliot Rodger’s Santa Barbara rampage and were presented as a legislation that could prevent future similar attacks.

Once signed, state Democrats and various gun control proponents praised the new life-saving benefits and “gun violence” reductions Californians were sure to enjoy.

Assemblyman Das Williams (D-Carpinteria) said, “Immediate family members and law enforcement are more empowered now to protect loved ones and the public from the dangers of gun violence. I am pleased Governor Brown heard the plea of many who were urging him to sign [the GVRO].”

Assemblywoman Hannah Beth-Jackson (D-Santa Barbara) said, “Modeled after our domestic violence restraining order laws, this legislation is a vital tool for families to use to ensure that that their loved ones and their communities stay safe, and I [am] extremely pleased the Governor has signed it into law.”

Moms Demand Action applauded Governor Brown’s “life-saving signature” by which GVROs became law, and gun control proponent Richard Martinez said, “I’m confident this new law will help save lives and prevent other families from experiencing this same kind of tragedy. States around the country should be exploring this life-saving measure.”

Fast forward to May 27, 2015, and the National Journal shows that a GVRO would not have stopped Elliot Rodger from carrying out his rampage–at least in part–and would not have prevented the Democrats’ favorite go-to example, Adam Lanza, from attacking Sandy Hook Elementary School because his “mother did not recognize the potential for violence” in him. And even if Rodger’s family had recognized the danger he posed–rather than mental problems–a GVRO would have left him in a position where he still could have killed the three people he stabbed to death.

Professor Winkler put it this way: “The truth is that it is very rare to know in advance when someone is going to be dangerous with a firearm. This is not going to make a huge dent in our gun violence statistics.”

Follow AWR Hawkins on Twitter @AWRHawkins. Reach him directly at


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