San Diego is being hailed for its efforts to proactively enforce red-flag laws that have been in place for two years. With Recent mass shootings, Congress is reconsidering enforcing and extending red-flag gun laws in other states.
California is one of 17 states in the nation with red-flag laws.
Last year, a stockpile of weapons was taken from the University Heights home of Nathan Brogan after he shot a city worker. Red-flag laws are aimed at proactively taking guns out of people's hands before the trigger is pulled.
“It's a cooling-off period. So, we remove the gun from somebody who poses a danger to themselves or others and then they can address whatever the underlying issue may be,” said Mara Elliot, San Diego City Attorney.
Elliott said the key is somebody, family member or police, have to tip off law enforcement so they can ask a judge for a gun violence restraining order.
The mother of the El Paso gunman who fired an AK-47 assault rifle inside a Walmart on Aug. 3 said she warned police, but they told her there was nothing they could do. A red-flag law might have given police more leverage to at least temporarily take away the suspect's gun.
"We just have to presume that we have saved lives. We have heard some statistics that for every 20 gun violence restraining orders we receive a life has been saved," said Elliot.
When a judge grants a restraining order, a gun owner must surrender their firearms for 21 days. Elliott says most gun owners don't fight it, because they can get their guns back in a year or sooner if they can prove to a judge they are no longer a threat.
Currently, only police and family members can request to have someone’s gun taken away. But state lawmakers are debating whether to extend that right to friends, teachers, and coworkers.