May 30, 2018 — Today, Giffords, the gun safety organization founded by former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and Captain Mark Kelly, applauded the passage of HB 2354, the Firearm Restraining Order (FRO), a bill in Illinois that would establish a process for temporarily prohibiting an individual who is a danger to themselves or others from possessing a firearm.
“Members of the Illinois legislature have stepped up to make sure their communities are safer from the threat of gun violence,” said Robin Lloyd, Government Affairs Director of Giffords. “The Illinois legislature is fighting for legislation that provides a critical tool to help prevent individuals who pose a danger to themselves or others from accessing a firearm. States like Florida, Oregon, and Vermont have already passed similar life-saving legislation, and we’re proud of the elected officials in Illinois who helped carry this bill to passage.”
In Connecticut, research has shown that a similar law saves one life for every 10-20 risk warrants issued. Illinois joins other states that have introduced these types of bills backed by Giffords.
About the Firearms Restraining Order, also known as Extreme Risk Protective Order
The Firearms Restraining Order (FRO), also known as the Extreme Risk Protective 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.
- A FRO creates a mechanism for families and law enforcement 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 FRO 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 would be able to petition the civil court in their jurisdiction for an FRO based on evidence they present through a written application and at a hearing before a judge.
- The FRO gives individuals an opportunity to present evidence to show they are not a danger to themselves or others. If a court issues a FRO, 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 FRO 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 FRO 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 FRO, which can prevent suicidal individuals from accessing guns during a crisis, will likely save lives.