Press Release

Former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords Praises Colorado for Becoming 15th State to Pass an Extreme Risk Law

Governor Polis signs H.B. 1177, the Deputy Zackari Parrish III Violence Prevention Act, which establishes a process to obtain an extreme risk protection order

April 12, 2019Giffords, the gun safety organization led by former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, applauded Governor Jared Polis for signing H.B. 1177, the Deputy Zackari Parrish III Violence Prevention Act. The bill establishes a process to obtain extreme risk protection orders, which allow for firearms to be temporarily removed from people in crisis.

Statement from former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, co-founder of Giffords

“Americans are demanding solutions to protect their families, and lawmakers in states across the country are finding the courage to pass bills that will make our communities safer from gun violence. If we’re serious about saving lives, we must continue to be serious about giving families and law enforcement officials the tools they need to prevent people at risk of harming themselves or others from accessing guns. Leaders in Colorado understand this and it’s why they’ve worked tirelessly to sign this extreme risk protection order legislation into law. I applaud Governor Polis and the Colorado legislature for leading with action and taking responsible steps to help keep guns out of the hands of people who are experiencing a crisis.”

Colorado now becomes the 15th state to pass an extreme risk law. California, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, and the District of Columbia currently have ERPOs or substantially similar laws.

Colorado House Majority Leader Alec Garnett and Representative Tom Sullivan, whose son was tragically killed in the Aurora, Colorado, movie theater shooting in 2012, introduced H.B. 1177. Senator Lois Court of District 31 and Senator Brittany Pettersen of District 22 have co-sponsored the legislation.

According to recent Giffords polling, 79 percent of Colorado voters support a law that would allow a judge to temporarily remove guns from people who are determined to be a risk to themselves or a threat to others. This includes 77 percent of gun-owning households in the state.

Mike Heyka, a member of Colorado Gun Owners for Safety, wrote an op-ed in Colorado Sun earlier this year explained why gun owners like himself should rally behind the life-saving bill. Along with Vic Bencomo, Mike testified in committee in support of the legislation in both the House and Senate committees, highlighting that the bill respects their Second Amendment rights while adding measures that will keep gun owners safe.

Click here to read Mike and Vic’s full testimonies

Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence’s Annual Gun Law Scorecard found that Colorado received a “C” for the strength of its gun laws. While Colorado did not pass any significant gun safety legislation in 2018, gun safety advocates successfully defeated two dangerous gun lobby–backed bills, one to allow permitless carry and another to permit guns in K–12 schools.

BACKGROUND 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. 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 returned upon expiration of the order.
  • States with extreme risk laws have seen positive results and are saving lives. California enacted a version of this lifesaving 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.

BACKGROUND ABOUT COLORADO GUN OWNERS FOR SAFETY:

Colorado Gun Owners for Safety launched earlier this year after Former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and Capt. Mark Kelly, co-founders of Giffords, attended a roundtable in the state where gun owners shared their personal stories about getting involved and why they believe in the Second Amendment and stronger gun laws. The group formed after Colorado gun owners decided to take action because of their concern over the gun violence crisis. Earlier this year the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that in 2017 the number of people dying from gun violence rose for the third year in a row. Overall, 39,773 Americans died in 2017 from gunshots, meaning that nearly 109 people were killed by firearms each day.