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There are myriad reasons we are fortunate to live in the great state of California. Lake Tahoe, Hollywood, Silicon Valley, the UC system are just some of these reasons. Another reason is that California has the strongest protections afforded to victims of domestic violence in the entire country.

As a recent story in the New York Times explains, anyone served with a temporary protective order  in California has 24 hours to turn over any weapons to local law enforcement or sell them to a licensed gun dealer. Hawaii and Massachusetts have similar laws. A handful of other states have laws that restrict gun possession but only after a permanent order has been obtained, which could take months.

There is a very good reason California’s law is so stringent, and why every state in the union should adopt it. To explain this reason requires understanding what domestic violence is.

Domestic Violence is About Control

Domestic violence between intimate partners is not about anger. It’s about control. One individual wishes to control or dominate the other, and when that individual realizes he or she has lost that control, a violent outburst ensues. This outburst can take on many forms: yelling, screaming, punching walls, stalking, theft, physical abuse, and sexual abuse are just the most common.

The most critical time, by far, for a victim of domestic violence is the period immediately following when the other party has been served with the temporary restraining order. That is the key moment when the abuser realizes he or she has lost all control and it is likely the victim of abuse is going to leave, or already has.

This is also the moment the abuser is most likely to act violently using whatever means might be available. If that individual owns or possesses firearms, he or she may choose to use them in one ultimate display of aggression and control. Knowing this, it is simpler to understand why the California legislature has taken reasonable step to protect victims of domestic violence by requiring restrained parties to relinquish their firearms.

Those seeking domestic violence restraining orders who are afraid of what the other person might do should understand this provision, and be ready to check the box on the domestic violence petition forms notifying the court that the restrained party owns or possesses firearms.

If you read the New York Times piece, you will see numerous circumstances where this option either saved lives or would have saved lives had it been available to the victims.

If you are a victim of domestic violence, you have options. There is alternative housing available in Yolo County, Sacramento County, and Placer County, and in some cases free legal assistance offered by organizations in those counties. And thanks to the fact you live in California, you can have some piece of mind knowing the assailant will be forced to relinquish his or her firearms.

This does not remove the danger of an attack. But it is one common sense measure that lowers the chance and opportunity for one to occur.

For help:

Yolo County: Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence Center
Sacramento County: WEAVE
Placer County: Stand Up Placer

Author Photo

Brian enters the family law profession with a refreshing approach to these proceedings: heal families; don’t destroy them. In some cases, this means the family is going to look different than it did before. In other cases, this means a new family is created where there was none before. Either way, individuals should leave family court knowing their voices were heard, and with healthy attitudes about themselves and those they love.

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