“Speak for Safety” Campaign Launches to Educate Public on Law to Temporarily Remove Guns from Persons in Crisis

CA’s Gun Violence Restraining Order Having Impact

LOS ANGELES (November 17, 2016) – The new “Speak for Safety” campaign launches today to raise public awareness for California’s Gun Violence Restraining Order (GVRO). The GVRO is a tool for family members and law enforcement to temporarily remove firearms from an individual in crisis through a civil court order. The campaign is an effort of a group of gun violence prevention, domestic violence, and public health organizations; leaders in law enforcement; and social impact firm Revolve Impact, based in Los Angeles.

In California, 53 percent of all gun deaths are suicides, and roughly four suicides by a firearm occur every day. Often family members are the first to know when a loved one is in crisis and poses a potential risk to themselves or others. The GVRO offers family, household members, and law enforcement a process to remove firearms from someone in a temporary crisis situation.

“ ‘Speak for Safety’ is an empowering platform for law enforcement, family, and friends— who are often in a vulnerable and fragile position — to finally have the ability to temporarily separate a person in crisis from a deadly weapon to prevent a tragic and fatal outcome,” said Christian Heyne, legislative director, Coalition to Stop Gun Violence. Heyne is a native Californian whose mother was shot and killed by a man with a history of violence; his father survived despite multiple gunshot wounds. “We hope that by working with law enforcement, the courts, and relevant stakeholders, we can educate Californians so they have an easy and accessible way to help save lives.”

The “Speak for Safety” launch includes an interactive website providing step-by-step guidance on obtaining a GVRO, a social media outreach campaign, and education efforts to reach law enforcement and community organizations throughout California.

The Office of the Sheriff in Santa Barbara County has discussed the department’s experiences using GVROs to prevent suicide and deescalate domestic violence and criminal behavior that could have turned fatal. In one instance, an individual had made comments about engaging deputies to commit “suicide by police” or shooting himself in public.  A GVRO was obtained, temporarily removing handguns and rifles while support services were sought.

A recent study of a similar law in Connecticut showed success, including one-third of order subjects receiving mental health or substance abuse treatment. In nearly every instance (99 percent), an average of seven guns were removed per warrant issued. Subjects of the Connecticut orders also had an annual suicide rate 40 times higher than the general population, showing an increased risk of suicide among the population served.

“The success in Connecticut shows the law reaches people at high risk of suicide by firearm,” said Mary Leigh Blek, co-president, Orange County Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. “California’s Gun Violence Restraining Order tool will only save lives if community organizers, law enforcement, and Californians work together to educate people about the process and use it.”

“Speak for Safety” campaign can be found on social media:

Website: “Speak for Safety”

Twitter: @speakforsafety, #SpeakForSafety

FB: https://www.facebook.com/speakforsafety/

IG: https://www.instagram.com/speakforsafety/

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