City Attorney Mara Elliott has become a national leader in the use of red flag laws. / Photo by Megan Wood
City Attorney Mara Elliott has become a national leader in the use of red flag laws. / Photo by Megan Wood

This post originally appeared in the July 16 Sacramento Report. Get the Sacramento Report delivered to your inbox.

At a discussion this week on gun violence prevention, San Diego City Attorney Mara Elliott said she intends to use $1 million in funding from the latest state budget to continue training law enforcement agencies across the state on how to take firearms away from people who pose a threat to themselves or others.

Elliott’s office hasn’t shed much light on how that money will actually be spent — it represents a 400 percent increase over what the office previously received — beyond noting that the money will keep the trainings going through 2023. Joined by California Attorney General Rob Bonta and San Diego Police Chief David Nisleit, the discussion amounted to a victory lap for Elliott and the attention she’s brought the city.

Since 2017, Elliott has used the state’s “red flag” law to file gun violence restraining orders, or GVROs, and petition the courts to temporarily confiscate firearms until a person is deemed well again.

“It is not a permanent removal (of weapons), but rather a crisis intervention,” she said.

One of the words stressed throughout the discussion was “collaboration.” Elliot said gun violence restraining orders can be used as a tool by school districts and employers in partnership with cities to stop school or workplace shootings before they happen.

According to the city attorney’s office, GVROs have been used more than 550 times, in the process removing more than 1,000 guns from people who were threatening themselves or others.

Nisleit repeatedly called the program a “game-changer” for San Diego public safety.

“The goal is removing firearms from people who wish to do harm,” he said.

With new funding from the state, officials are hoping that gun violence can be decreased statewide.

“This is a model that others can use, and the data speaks for itself,” Bonta said. “There’s not many brand-new ideas (for gun violence prevention), but there are good ideas that can be used in new places. This is one of them.”

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