This will be GVPP’s second year as Berkeley Law’s first student group focused on using legal tools to reduce and prevent gun violence in the U.S.
In 2014, California enacted a law that allows family and household members or law enforcement officers to petition a court directly for an order temporarily restricting a person’s access to guns. This law, known as a Gun Violence Restraining Order (GVRO), is a vital public safety tool that allows the people most likely to notice when loved ones or community members become a danger, to take concrete steps to disarm them. Research has shown that these laws are particularly effective at preventing gun suicides, which make up about two-thirds of all gun deaths in the U.S. Creating public awareness about GVROs and developing systems that allow laypeople to make use of it is critical to the effectiveness of the law.
Students in GVPP will support the Giffords Law Center in developing guides, fact-sheets, and other resources to educate individuals and organizations on what California’s GVRO law is and how it can be used to keep communities safe. Our efforts will focus on contributing to a best/promising practices guide for courts, attorneys, law enforcement, and other stakeholders addressing disarming prohibited persons. This will include researching law enforcement directives and practices, local rules of court, and other policies around serving orders, requesting and obtaining firearms and search warrants in civil restraining order cases, and storing/returning those firearms. We will also be researching who is hearing GVRO cases around the state and taking a look at whether or why that matters in terms of how evidentiary and other legal standards are applied and laws in this area are implemented. Our research will culminate in memos, charts, and other materials to be used at statewide conferences occurring in November/December.
Finally, we are looking forward to expanding into a new area of research: examining the intersection between the data privacy movement (ensuring anonymity of user data and preventing third-party access/limiting the amount of data that platforms collect) and the growing understanding of how the internet functions as a tool for radicalization and the glorification of violence (incels/4chan/Christchurch/Elliot Rodger). We intend on collaborating with other data privacy groups on campus in brainstorming new legislation strategies to serve the dual goals of protecting privacy and preventing the further growth of the internet’s capacity to lead to gun violence.
GVPP participants will develop critical skills in legal research and writing, and gain invaluable experience in making a statute understandable and usable. Because GVPP is a relatively new SLP, there will be room for participants to contribute to shaping its direction long-term and make the work their own.
Supervision: Students will receive training from and provide pro bono legal services under the supervision of attorneys at the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence in San Francisco, California.
Time Commitment: Three hours every other week.
For more information, please contact the student leaders at firstname.lastname@example.org.