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Domestic violence restraining order does not always remove guns

California law prohibits persons who are under the constraints of a domestic violence restraining order from having a gun. However, local authorities have experienced that it is not so easy to enforce and track the gun status of an individual under a restraining order. In one California county, a domestic violence study has been accompanied with public meetings to determine the extent of the problem and what can be done for easier enforcement.

The Santa Clara County supervisors also considered in a recent meeting whether a specialized enforcement unit should be formed to enforce gun prohibitions against those with domestic violence restraining orders. In some instances, guns are not taken away at all, either by inadvertence or if there is a change in the status of the restraining order. Where a woman does not prevail in getting a restraining order imposed against the alleged perpetrator, there will be no authority generally to take away firearms.

Another county obtained federal grant money to create a special law enforcement unit to retrieve weapons where applicable. The idea of a separate law enforcement unit appears to be gaining some favor but funding then becomes a consideration. Although many individuals may cooperate with authorities in enforcing clear-cut legal mandates that prohibit guns, other perpetrators will take stealthy action to thwart attempts to take their firepower away from them.

Instead of a county-by-county effort, federal legislation to supplement state laws on the problem may be a viable resolution long-term. Providing funding within the authority of existing federal legislation may also be a practical consideration. In California and elsewhere, women who must go through the hoops of obtaining a restraining order and then still have to worry about guns remaining intact are having severe post-traumatic stress symptoms. Their problems should be addressed and effectively resolved.

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