Press Release

Gabby Giffords Applauds The New York Assembly For Advancing Bill To Help Remove Guns From Dangerous Situations

June 20, 2017 — Former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, the Co-Founder of the gun violence prevention organization Americans for Responsible Solutions (ARS), issued the below statement applauding the New York Assembly for advancing Assembly Bill 6994, 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.

“If we’re serious about saving lives, we need to be serious about making sure families and law enforcement officials have the tools they need to prevent people at risk of harming themselves or others from accessing guns. The bill advanced by the New York Assembly is a major victory for New York’s gun violence prevention advocates and public safety officials who have long called on their leaders to do more to protect families from gun violence,” said Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. “At a time when over 90 people in our country die from gun violence every day, most by suicide, this vote puts New York one step closer to joining the growing list of states across the country who have taken responsible steps to help keep guns out of the hands of people who are experiencing a crisis.”

“Empowering New York families and police to intervene to prevent gun violence when people we care about are experiencing a crisis will save lives and help keep our communities safe,” said Assemblymember Brian Kavanagh, lead Assembly sponsor of New York’s ERPO legislation. “I’ve been inspired by brave Americans like Gabrielle Giffords, whom we were honored to welcome in New York last year, and countless others whose experience with gun violence has motivated them to advocate tirelessly for responsible gun laws all over the United States. In New York, we’re building on strong laws that have helped give our state one of the lowest rates of gun violence in the country, but we know we need to do more. Our ERPO legislation represents a sound, evidence-based step to close a critical gap in these laws, with appropriate due process protections. I thank my Assembly colleagues for supporting the bill and I am committed to working with the Senate and Governor Cuomo to get it enacted.”

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 respondentsreceived 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.