July 6, 2017 — Former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, the Co-Founder of the gun violence prevention organization Americans for Responsible Solutions, and members of the Oregon Coalition for Common Sense applauded the Oregon Legislature 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 year, members of the Oregon Coalition for Common Sense testified on behalf of Senate Bill 719.
Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords:
“Today, the Oregon Legislature delivered a victory for safer communities in the form of a responsible bill that helps keep guns out of the hands of individuals who are experiencing a mental health crisis. This bill will not only ensure that law enforcement and families have the resources they need to help those who need it most, this bill will prevent tragedies and save lives. I am extremely grateful to Senator Burdick, Senator Boquist, and House Majority Leader Williamson for their leadership on this important issue and urge Governor Brown to sign this bill into law.”
Jenna Yuille, Engagement Manager for Americans for Responsible Solutions, survivor of gun violence:
“I lost my father to firearm suicide. While it’s too late to save my father’s life, this commonsense bill may someday spare others the pain of losing a loved one. Oregon has become a national leader in reducing gun violence and today’s vote shows our state’s continued commitment to building safer communities.”
Sheriff Mike Reese, Multnomah County Sheriff, former Chief of Portland Police Bureau, Advisory Committee member of the Oregon Coalition for Common Sense:
“Throughout my career as a law enforcement officer, I have seen how guns in the hands of individuals who are experiencing a mental health crisis can lead to tragedy. This lifesaving bill will help law enforcement keep our communities safe and it will help save lives from gun violence.”
Lou Jaffee, Vietnam Veteran, Advisory Committee member of the Oregon Coalition for Common Sense:
“The stress of repeated deployments, financial challenges, depression, and PTSD are among the reasons that every year we tragically lose roughly 7,000 veterans from suicide. As a state, and as a country, we need to do more to help our nation’s veterans who are experiencing a crisis, and this bill represents a major step forward. I especially want to thank Sen. Brian Boquist for taking his own personal, tragic experiences with returning veterans, including his son, and turning it into responsible action that will save other families the pain of losing a loved one to firearm suicide. I hope Governor Brown will quickly sign this life-saving bill into law.”
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 creates 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 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.
The ERPO gives individuals an opportunity to present evidence to show they are not a danger to themselves or others. 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.
States with ERPO laws have seen positive results and are saving lives. 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 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.