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Gun violence restraining order: How it works and why it ‘has the potential for abuse'

Santa Clara County’s district attorney wants to make sure every officer knows how to fill out a gun violence restraining order, which is part of red flag laws allowing police to proactively confiscate guns away from people the courts consider dangerous.

Once the order is filled out, it can be taken to a judge for approval no matter the time of day or night.

“We’ve trained our prosecutors who are on search warrant duty, which are on call 24 hours a day, to be able to answer their questions and assist the officers,” Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen said.

Santa Clara County is very familiar with gun violence restraining orders. In fact, only San Diego County has issued more of the orders in the state over the past seven years.

Prosecutors spend hours training police officers how to navigate the process.

“She went to every police department in the county (and) has taught at the academy for every new police officer in our county,” Rosen said of Santa Clara County Supervising Deputy District Attorney Marisa McKeown, who also is the head of the DA’s crime strategies unit. “So now, every police officer in our county knows about gun violence restraining orders.”

McKeown said the orders are another tool for officers to get hands off guns from dangerous people.

But there is also a warning that the gun violence restraining orders cannot be a blanket fix.

“Gun violence restraining orders need to be applied very surgically so they don’t turn into an unconstitutional gun grab for a lawful gun owner,” legal analyst Steven Clark said.

Clark has represented people who have had gun violence restraining orders issued against them.

“I think it’s important that we have this tool,” he said. “But it’s a tool that has the potential for abuse.”

The district attorney said he is proud of how proactive the county has been in issuing the court orders, and will continue encouraging officers to go get the guns from people who pose a threat.

Source: NBC Bay Area

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