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Santa Clara Co. board mulls firearm enforcement team

Santa Clara County supervisors considered creating a specialized unit Tuesday to enforce firearm bans on individuals with domestic violence restraining orders.

Supervisor Cindy Chavez, who requested a study for the proposal in June, heard about the issue through San Jose resident Scott Largent, who said at Tuesday’s supervisors meeting he was able to keep his guns when he was the subject of a restraining order from his ex-wife.

He said it became a peaceful contact order three weeks after it was issued, but law enforcement made no effort to take his guns during that time. State law currently prohibits people with either permanent or temporary domestic violence restraining orders from having a gun.

Largent said:

“There was no follow-through on anything.”

He added that women have post-traumatic stress disorder from navigating the legal system while reporting abuse. One woman who spoke during public comment said judges “lurk and leer” at women while deciding whether to believe their accounts of abuse, before they even reach the point of removing the perpetrator’s firearms.

The county today received the staff report, which clarifies the different types of protective orders and state laws regarding firearm prohibitions.

The report references two county methods of enforcing the state law, which does not require immediate handover of weapons after a protective order is filed.

In San Mateo County, officials previously obtained federal grant money to create a team of law enforcement and community advocates to identify and retrieve weapons, and King County, Washington, created a similar special unit this year.

Chavez said the supervisors must now identify the scope of the problem, which includes identifying whether individuals have guns and determining whether an individual has relinquished their weapon.

The Board will assess the budgetary impacts of creating a specialized team or reprioritizing law enforcement and return to reconsider the idea.

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