SAN DIEGO — Nationwide, there were more mass shootings in January than actual days of the month, including in California.
Locally, the San Diego City Attorney's office is working hard to prevent a tragedy from happening here.
New numbers show officials issued 18 gun violence restraining orders last month, prohibiting someone from owning or buying a firearm.
"We're convinced that we have intervened in many potential tragic scenarios," said San Diego City Attorney Mara Elliott.
Elliott’s office has been issuing gun violence restraining orders for five years.
But, in light of recent mass shootings, she's becoming more vocal about it, hoping to prevent a similar tragedy from happening here.
"Gun violence is real. We need people to call us and check it out. We don't want to read about our community in the newspaper," said Elliott.
California is one of 19 states with red flag laws designed to stop violence before it happens.
On Thursday, a bill was introduced to form a federal grant program to help other states do the same.
Specifically, gun violence restraining orders can be used in cases where someone threatens to harm themselves or others.
Once issued, that person's guns are confiscated.
Regardless of whether or not they have any, the order also prohibits them from buying one.
The order is good for 21 days when a judge decides if it gets extended.
"The maximum is five years, and if we're at that five years and the individual still hasn't addressed the underlying concern that led to the irresponsible conduct, we will ask for an additional up to five-year restraining order and so on," said Elliott.
Two of the 18 orders Elliot's office issued in January involved someone threatening to kill three or more people.
In one of those 18 cases, a man got onto a downtown trolley and pointed a loaded gun at several passengers.
In another, an emergency room patient who didn't want to be admitted to the hospital became agitated and yelled, "I'm going to go buy a gun and come back and shoot ten people."
Elliott says her office also sees several intimate partner violence incidents.
"About a third of our cases will be associated with that. About a third of the cases we're seeing has to do with the potential for suicide, suicide and then the others have to do with workplace violence, community violence, mental health crisis," said Elliott.
Gun violence restraining orders are public records so that anybody can access the information at the downtown Superior Courthouse.
As for how to get one issued, Elliott says there has to be clear and convincing evidence of a threat.
That can include statements made public, including social media posts.
“We all have a sixth sense. We know when something doesn't feel right. And those are the calls that need to be made,” said Elliott.
For more information about restraining gun violence orders, click here.
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