SB 536 to Put California Firearm Violence Research Center to Work, Passes State Senate

Measure gives researchers access to data needed to comprehensively Conduct their research on firearm violence and prevention

April 24, 2017

SACRAMENTO – Senate Bill 536, a measure authored by Dr. Richard Pan, to provide much-needed data to researchers affiliated with the California Firearm Violence Research Center, passed the California State Senate today on a vote of 25-13. 

“The Legislature established the University of California’s Firearm Violence Research Center last year, but they need access to raw data to adequately conduct their research,” said Dr. Richard Pan, a pediatrician and state senator representing the Sacramento region.  “SB 536 will provide data so academic researchers can evaluate the effectiveness of policy interventions to better prevent gun deaths.”

SB 536 would direct the California Department of Justice to provide information on gun violence restraining orders (GVRO) to researchers affiliated with the University of California’s Firearm Violence Research Center and nonprofit educational institutions or public agencies, upon DOJ approval.

“Gun violence is a public health epidemic, and it is imperative that researchers and medical professionals be able to study it as such,” said Amanda Wilcox, of the California chapters of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. “Senator Pan's bill will allow California's best and brightest to study this life-saving law, one that could have spared my daughter's life if it were in place sixteen years ago.  The Brady Campaign is honored to have been involved in passing California's Gun Violence Restraining Order law from the get-go, giving us all the power to keep guns out of dangerous hands. We're confident our state is ready to take the next step in understanding and preventing gun violence by passing SB 536.”

“California's Gun Violence Restraining Order law is the first of its kind in the nation, a promising policy innovation that empowers Californians to petition a court to remove lethal weapons from a loved one who poses an imminent danger to themselves or the public. However, larger-scale assessments about the GVRO law's implementation and effectiveness are not currently possible. Dr. Pan's legislation will ensure that high-quality, independent researchers will have access to GVRO records, consistent with appropriate privacy and confidentiality protections, so they may effectively study the GVRO law's impact on public safety in our state and inform future efforts to improve this law and public safety,” said Ari Freilich of the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence.

“California’s GVRO policy is an important innovation that may prevent violence and is already being replicated in other states,” said Dr. Garen Wintemute, Director of the Violence Prevention Research Program at the University of California, Davis. “We need to be sure that it has its intended effects, and a thorough evaluation is the way to find out. Access to records will help make that evaluation possible.”

California’s Gun Violence Restraining Order (GVRO) law allows law enforcement and immediate family members to petition the court to obtain a temporary firearm prohibition through a firearm restraining order when a person poses a significant risk of injury to him/herself or others. GVRO records are maintained and housed by the California Department of Justice in electronic format under the California Restraining and Protective Order System.

The bill specifies that the information can only be used for academic and policy research analysis and the publication of identifying information would be prohibited.