Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen said Thursday afternoon his office focuses aggressively on combatting domestic violence.
Those efforts include prosecuting the crime, which claimed the lives of nine people in 2012, supporting victims by getting them counseling and services and supporting and treating first-offense batterers.
Rosen then urged the public to support the county's gun buyback program set for 10 a.m. Saturday, March 2 at the Santa Clara County Fairgrounds, 344 Tully Rd. in San Jose, to reduce firearm-related crimes and deaths.
"It's very important to get guns out of homes in crisis," Rosen said during a news conference at the Santa Clara County Government Center in San Jose to discuss an annual report about domestic violence deaths in the county.
"We think that by doing this we're going to decrease the number of domestic violence homicides that we have had and other kinds of accidental deaths from homes in crisis."
Last year, four of the domestic violence homicides were from guns, he said. "We know that in homes in crisis there's a fatal mix of passion and opportunity and a gun present turns something into violence and often into a deadly encounter."
Santa Clara County Supervising Deputy District Attorney Steven Dick, chairman of the Domestic Violence Death Review Committee, said "speaking up can save a life. Silence can be fatal ... It is illegal to own or possess a firearm when there's a protective order."
Dick praised Chief Assistant District Attorney Jay Boyarsky for initiating last year Senate Bill 1433 with the help of retired California Sen. Elaine Alquist.
The law authorizes law enforcement to take custody of firearms in plain sight found during lawful searches, requires judges to conduct a weapon's check of firearms databases and authorizes family court judges to issue warrants for weapons at the time protective orders are sought.
The measure was created after the tragic Los Gatos murder-homicide of Andrew and Ed Daou in the summer of 2011. Wife and mother Carmen Hamady-Daou had sought a restraining order against her abusive husband, and in the order she had indicated he had a firearm and she feared for her son's life and that of her family. The firearm was not removed because of gaps in the system, Dick said.
The day before the order was to be heard, Ed Daou killed his son and then turned the gun on himself.
Hamady-Daou thanked Alquist, Boyarsky, the county's domestic violence unit, Gov. Jerry Brown and California lawmakers for passing SB 1433. "I believe the passage of this law is a revolution. It's a big step forward in protecting victims of domestic violence."
Alquist said victims are never alone and there are always people to help them. "Every person is sacred and nobody should suffer abuse," she said.