July 16, 2018 — Giffords, the gun safety organization founded by former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and Captain Mark Kelly, applauded Governor Rauner for signing HB 2354. The new law establishes a process for obtaining a Firearm Restraining Order (FRO) that temporarily prohibits an individual who is a danger to themselves or others from possessing a firearm.
Statement from former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, co-founder of Giffords:
“While Congress remains silent, states like Illinois are responding to calls from Americans of all ages to do more to keep us safe. Today is another step in the right direction as Illinois communities now have a path to ensure those experiencing a crisis do not have access to guns. Senator Julie Morrison and Representative Kathleen Willis showed what courage is all about, spearheading this bill and getting their colleagues to recognize the importance of providing tools to stop a dangerous situation from turning deadly. While this law will protect Illinois families from gun violence our work is not over. Governor Rauner must build on these victories by supporting additional efforts to curtail the gun violence crisis and build a bridge to a healthier future for Illinois.”
Illinois becomes the eleventh state to enact these types of laws backed by Giffords, and joins Delaware, Florida, Maryland, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Vermont, and New Jersey to become the eighth state to pass the legislation since the horrific shooting in Parkland, Florida. Even much more limited versions of this law have been effective in other states. For instance, researchers have estimated that by temporarily removing weapons from 762 at-risk individuals, Connecticut’s law had averted up to 100 fatalities from suicide alone.
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.