Press Release

Gun Violence Prevention Advocates Testify in Favor of Senate Bill 868

 

April 17, 2017 — Today, members of the Oregon Coalition for Common Sense testified on behalf of Senate Bill 868, which creates a process for obtaining an Extreme Risk Protection Order that prohibits a person who is in danger of hurting themselves or others from possessing a firearm.

Jenna Yuille, Regional Manager for Americans for Responsible Solutions, survivor of gun violence:

“I turned 28 in February, and I have now lost not one, but both of my parents to gun violence. This bill could have prevented my dad from getting the gun he used to kill himself. If a tool like the Extreme Risk Protective Order had been available, I would have used it. I hope that Oregon will take the necessary steps to pass this law so no one else has to experience the pain of losing a parent to firearm suicide.”

Sheriff Mike Reese, Multnomah County Sheriff, former Chief of Portland Police Bureau, Advisory Committee member of the Oregon Coalition for Common Sense:

“We have seen how Extreme Risk Protection Orders have been able to save lives in other states. It’s time for Oregon to do more to protect individuals who are at risk for harming themselves or others. Law enforcement officials can do so much more to help people in crisis when we are given the tools to do so, and that’s why I am proud to support this bill.”

Lou Jaffe: Gun Owners for Responsible Ownership (GOFRO) board member, veteran, Advisory Committee member of the Oregon Coalition for Common Sense:

“As a veteran and a gun owner, I understand the responsibilities that come with owning a gun. The Extreme Risk Protection Order is the next step our legislators need to take in order to make Oregon a safer place to live.”

Lisa Bates, Principal of the Levi Anderson Learning Center, Advisory Committee member of the Oregon Coalition for Common Sense:

“We need stronger laws to help prevent suicide in our communities. As someone who works in suicide prevention, I have seen the devastation that suicide causes. We owe it to our communities to do as much as we can to prevent future tragedies. This law will make a big difference to Oregon families.”

About the Oregon Coalition for Common Sense

The coalition is made up of gun owners, veterans, educators, law enforcement officials, and community advocates. The coalition focuses on commonsense solutions that will help make Oregon families safer from gun violence, like:

  1. Preventing people who may be at risk of hurting themselves or others from temporarily accessing guns by providing clear processes for families and law enforcement to ensure that person can’t get their hands on a gun.
  2. Strengthening our existing gun background checks system by ensuring Oregon’s leaders make critical investments in the reporting of records to the system, since our background check system is only as good as the data and records it contains.
  3. Protecting children from unintentional shootings by ensuring gun owners are required to safely store their guns in their home when they know children may have access to the area, and to hold gun owners accountable when their failure to secure their guns results in a tragedy.

About the Extreme Risk Protection Order

The Extreme Risk Protection Order (ERPO) is a civil court order issued by a judge upon consideration of evidence provided by a family member or law enforcement officer that temporarily prohibits a person in crisis from possessing or purchasing firearms or ammunition. A common thread in many shootings is that family members of the shooters had noticed their loved ones engaging in dangerous behaviors and were concerned about their risk of harming themselves or others – even before any violence occurred.

An ERPO fills this gap by creating a mechanism for family and household members to temporarily prevent access to guns by individuals who pose an elevated risk of endangering themselves or others. This law can save lives while ensuring critical legal protections for respondents, just as it has in states that have already taken this responsible step.

The ERPO is based on the long-standing infrastructure and procedure of domestic violence protection orders (in place in all 50 states) and involves both a court hearing and clearly defined due process protections. Qualifying petitioners, such as family and household members or law enforcement officers, would be able to petition the civil court in their jurisdiction for an ERPO based on evidence they present through a written application and at a hearing before a judge. Respondents would also have an opportunity to present evidence to show they are not a danger to themselves or others, and an ERPO is not necessary. If a court issues an ERPO, respondents would still be able to petition once for termination of the order and be eligible to have their firearms and ammunition returned upon expiration of the order.

California enacted this life-saving law in 2014, and Washington voters overwhelmingly passed it in November 2016. Connecticut and Indiana have similar versions that allow law enforcement officers to intervene when people are in crisis and have easy access to guns. In the first fourteen years of the implementation of Connecticut’s law, it is estimated that for every 10 to 20 risk-warrants served, one suicide was prevented. In addition, nearly one third of respondents received critical mental health and substance abuse treatment as a result of the intervention.

The ERPO is a particularly important tool to help prevent suicides. Those in a suicidal crisis are much more likely to survive if they do not have easy access to firearms for the duration of the crisis. Research shows that people are more likely to die by suicide if they have easy access to firearms. Eighty-five percent of suicide attempts involving firearms are fatal. Nine out of 10 people who survive a suicide attempt do not die by suicide at a later date. These facts demonstrate that the ERPO, which can prevent suicidal individuals from accessing guns during a crisis, will likely save lives.