Press Release

Giffords Applauds New Mexico House Committee for Passing Legislation to Remove Guns from Dangerous People

HB 83, the Extreme Risk Protection Order Act, Allows Courts to Temporarily Remove Guns from Individuals Who Pose a Danger to Themselves or Others

January 25, 2019 — Giffords, the gun violence organization founded by former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords and her husband Captain Mark Kelly, praised the New Mexico House Consumer & Public Affairs Committee for passing HB 83, the Extreme Risk Protection Order Act. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Daymon Ely, establishes a process to obtain an Extreme Risk Protection Order (ERPO) that temporarily prohibits an individual who is a danger to themselves or others from possessing a firearm.

“Leaders in New Mexico are responding to families and communities who want to see action to make the state safer from gun violence,” said Robin Lloyd, managing director at Giffords. “The passage of this bill brings New Mexico one step closer to giving law enforcement and loved ones a critical tool to stop someone before they harm themselves or those around them. States like Oregon, Vermont, Maryland, and Florida have enacted this live-saving measure and we thank Rep. Ely for having the courage to step up and focus on reducing gun violence in the Land of Enchantment by moving the establishment of an extreme risk protection order one step closer to reality.”

HB 83 passed the House committee with support from multiple stakeholders including the City of Albuquerque, Aztec, NM Police Chief Michael Heal, and the National Alliance on Mental Illness. With approval from the House Consumer & Public Affairs Committee, the bill now heads to the full House of Representatives for consideration.

About Extreme Risk Protection Orders

Extreme Risk Laws create 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.

  • Extreme Risk Laws create 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. These laws can save lives while ensuring critical legal protections for respondents, just as they have in states that have already taken this responsible step.

  • Extreme Risk Laws are based on the long-standing domestic violence protection orders (in place in all 50 states) and involve both a court hearing and clearly defined due process protections. Qualifying petitioners would be able to petition a civil court for an order based on evidence they present at a hearing before a judge.

  • Extreme Risk Laws give individuals an opportunity to present evidence to show they are not a danger to themselves or others. If a court issues an order, respondents would still be able to petition for early termination of the order and are eligible to have their firearms and ammunition returned upon expiration of the order.

  • States with Extreme Risk 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 long-standing Extreme Risk Laws 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, researchers estimated that by temporarily removing weapons from 762 at-risk individuals, Connecticut’s law had saved up to 100 lives from suicide alone. In addition, nearly one-third of respondents received critical mental health and substance abuse treatment as a result of the intervention. A total of 13 states now have Extreme Risk Laws in place.

  • Extreme Risk Laws are 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 Extreme Risk Laws, which can prevent suicidal individuals from accessing guns during a crisis, will likely save lives.