Objectives. We evaluated a law enforcement initiative to screen respondents to domestic violence restraining orders for firearm ownership or possession and recover their firearms.
Methods. The initiative was implemented in San Mateo and Butte counties in California from 2007 through 2010. We used descriptive methods to evaluate the screening process and recovery effort in each county, relying on records for individual cases.
Results. Screening relied on an archive of firearm transactions, court records, and petitioner interviews; no single source was adequate. Screening linked 525 respondents (17.7%) in San Mateo County to firearms; 405 firearms were recovered from 119 (22.7%) of them. In Butte County, 88 (31.1%) respondents were linked to firearms; 260 firearms were recovered from 45 (51.1%) of them. Nonrecovery occurred most often when orders were never served or respondents denied having firearms. There were no reports of serious violence or injury.
Conclusions. Recovering firearms from persons subject to domestic violence restraining orders is possible. We have identified design and implementation changes that may improve the screening process and the yield from recovery efforts. Larger implementation trials are needed.