Press Release

Giffords Executive Director Reacts to the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Hearing on Bipartisan Extreme Risk Legislation 

March 26, 2019 Giffords, the gun violence prevention organization led by former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, issued the following statement reacting to today’s U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on extreme risk protection order policies.

Extreme risk laws empower families and law enforcement to temporarily prevent access to guns by individuals at an elevated risk of endangering themselves or others, saving lives while ensuring critical legal protections for respondents. Recently, Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, introduced S. 506, the Extreme Risk Protection Order Act of 2019. Representatives Salud Carbajal (D-CA), Ted Deutch (D-FL), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) and Don Beyer (D-VA) introduced companion legislation in the House of Representatives, H.R. 1236.

Peter Ambler, Giffords Executive Director:

“Gun deaths in America have reached the highest level in 40 years. This is an epidemic impacts every family in our country, and an epidemic requires action. Holding a hearing and bringing people together for a serious conversation about solutions to save lives is an important first step, but Americans are demanding more than words – they’re demanding action. Every day that goes by where Senator McConnell and Republicans in the Senate fail to take action, 100 people die from gun violence. If the Senate is serious about protecting our kids and communities, they’ll build on the conversations they had today by swiftly holding votes on gun safety legislation like Bipartisan Background Checks Act and the Extreme Risk Protection Order Act.”

Background on Extreme Risk Laws

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.

States with extreme risk laws have seen positive results. 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 in crisis 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 14 states and the District of Columbia now have extreme risk laws in place.

People at risk of suicide 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, and eighty-five percent of suicide attempts involving firearms are fatal. The Extreme Risk Protection Order Act of 2019 would provide incentives for states to pass ERPO laws and crucial funding for law enforcement training and public awareness to realize the life-saving potential of these laws.

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