The slaughter of 12 people by a troubled veteran at a bar in Thousand Oaks, California, last week led Gov.-elect Gavin Newsom and others to call for tough new state and federal laws to limit American gun massacres that happen with depraved regularity. It’s a call we’ve heard before. An obvious and overdue starting point at the federal level is targeting loopholes in gun-purchase background checks.

In California, another idea to consider is whether a 2016 state gun law is being underused. It allows family members, roommates and police officers to ask a judge to block individuals considered dangerous from possessing firearms for up to a year. San Diego City Attorney Mara Elliott has employed this law to great effect, obtaining all 80 gun-violence restraining orders her office has requested since December and subsequently seizing 169 guns, including 16 semiautomatic rifles, and 80,000-plus rounds of ammunition.

But a September analysis by the Los Angeles Times found other jurisdictions being far more passive. In 2016 and 2017, fewer than 200 gun-violence restraining orders were issued statewide, with none in several counties and fewer than a dozen each in such California population centers as Orange, Riverside and Sacramento counties. Law enforcement officials have a tough job. But they have no excuse for not embracing a helpful tool against gun violence.

Editorial by The San Diego Union-Tribune

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