Press Release

ARS Applauds The Oregon Senate For Advancing Bill To Help Remove Guns From Dangerous Situations

May 1, 2017 — Americans for Responsible Solutions, the gun violence prevention organization founded by former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and retired NASA astronaut Captain Mark Kelly, and members of the Oregon Coalition for Common Sense, applauded the Oregon Senate today for advancing Senate Bill 719, 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. Earlier this month, members of the Oregon Coalition for Common Sense testified on behalf of Senate Bill 719.

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

“I lost my father to firearm suicide. If a tool like the Extreme Risk Protective Order was available, I would have used it, and my dad wouldn’t have been able to go purchase a gun that day. I applaud the Oregon Senate for advancing this bipartisan bill that will help keep guns out of the hands of people who are experiencing a crisis. It’s time to give other families an effective way to do something for their loved ones who they know are struggling, and today brings Oregon one step closer to this life-saving bill becoming law.”

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

“Throughout my career, I have seen how guns in the hands of individuals who are at risk of harming themselves or others can lead to tragedy. Today’s vote by the Oregon Senate is a positive step towards giving law enforcement the tools we need to help people in crisis and make our state a safer place to live.”

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, such as:

  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 14 years of the implementation of Connecticut’s law, it is estimated that between 38-76 lives were saved as a result of risk-warrants. 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 peoplewho 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.