Dan Morain

What might not have happened at Douglas High if Florida had this law. We’ll never know

We can only wonder what might not have happened at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School if Florida had a law like California’s statute authorizing gun violence restraining orders.


Reports show people worried about Nikolas Cruz’s mental stability dating back years. Two days after Cruz used an AR-15 assault rifle to massacre 17 children and teachers at Douglas High in Parkland, Fla., San Diego City Attorney Mara W. Elliott detailed how she is using a California law permitting law enforcement to obtain gun violence restraining orders to wisely remove guns from people who pose a danger to themselves and others.

The 2014 law, which took effect in 2016, allows cops or family members to seek court orders directing individuals to give up their firearms for a year; it also makes it a crime to lie to get such orders.

Sen. Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley, and then-Assemblyman Das Williams, D-Santa Barbara, carried the bill after 22-year-old Elliot Rodger killed six people with a knife and gun near UC Santa Barbara before shooting himself in 2014. California’s police chiefs were among the supporters, as were gun safety organizations.

San Diego City Attorney Elliott issued a press release offering brief descriptions of 10 people whose guns were seized, among them:

▪ An ex-Marine who walked into a Kearny Mesa auto parts store with a loaded handgun, but called police before shooting anyone.

▪ A demented 81-year-old man who threatened to shoot his 75-year-old wife and a neighbor because he believed they were having an affair.

▪ A 38-year-old man who threatened to kill himself, his wife and their young child if she left him.

Conservative writer David French of the National Review wrote about the wisdom of gun violence restraining orders, and cited California’s law as an example.

“The great benefit of the GVRO is that it provides citizens with options other than relying on, say, the FBI,” French wrote.

The California Legislature passed Assembly Bill 1014 in 2014 with Democratic votes, 48-28 in the Assembly, and 23-8 in the Senate. No Republican voted for it. Too bad. But they’ll get another chance this year.

The Sacramento Bee’s Alexei Koseff reports that Assemblyman Phil Ting, D- San Francisco, is carrying legislation to add employers, co-workers, high school and college staff, and mental health workers to the list of individuals who can seek gun violence restraining orders.