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Giffords Lauds House Passage of Extreme Risk Protection Order Legislation

Washington DC—Giffords, the gun violence prevention group led by former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, lauded the House of Representatives for passing critical legislation that will create a federal extreme risk protection order (ERPO) process, as well as establish a grant program to incentivize and support states to pass and implement state-level ERPO legislation.  Extreme risk protection orders empower law enforcement agencies, and often families and household members, to petition courts for a civil (non-criminal) order to temporarily suspend a person’s access to firearms before they commit violence against others or themselves.

Nico Bocour, Giffords Government Affairs Director:

“Families across the country have been shattered by gun violence that could have been prevented. We have heard so many times after mass shooting tragedies that the perpetrators displayed clear signs of causing harm to others. Too many mass shootings involve perpetrators who communicated their intentions to others—including both the Buffalo and Uvalde shooters—yet still they had access to firearms. Extreme risk protection orders are one of the most important tools we have to prevent tragedies from happening. In a country that has experienced the devastation of too many mass shootings to count, and nearly 24,000 firearm suicides a year, this legislation is crucial. We applaud Speaker Pelosi, Congresswoman McBath, and Congressman Carbajal for their unwavering leadership on this issue. We are incredibly grateful to the House of Representatives for recognizing the importance of ERPOs, and we urge the Senate to immediately take up this lifesaving legislation.”

About Extreme Risk Protection Orders:

Extreme risk laws create a process that allows law enforcement agencies, and depending on the jurisdiction, families, household members, and certain key community members to petition a court directly for an extreme risk protection order (ERPO), which temporarily restricts a person’s access to guns if they are found to present a significant risk of harming themselves or others. This vital tool saves lives by allowing the people who are most likely to notice when a loved one or community member poses a risk to themselves or others with a firearm to take concrete steps to temporarily disarm them.

An FBI study of mass shooters found that the average shooter displayed four to five observable and concerning behaviors before their attack. But in many states, people who observe those warning signs often have no clear means of intervening to prevent that violence until it is too late. The shooter who perpetrated the February 14, 2018, school shooting in Parkland, Florida, for instance, was prohibited from carrying a backpack on school grounds for fear that he might be concealing guns. He had been the subject of dozens of 911 calls to local law enforcement and two tips to the FBI. At the time, Florida law enforcement had few effective means of preventing him from accessing guns.

Similarly, weeks before a gunman shot 46 people and killed 23 in El Paso, Texas, in August 2019, the shooter’s mother had called the police to express concerns about her son and what he would do with his assault rifle. If Texas had an extreme risk law in place, she and/or the police department may have been able to proactively present evidence to a court that her son’s access to firearms should be temporarily suspended. And 23 murders might have been prevented.
19 states and Washington, DC have passed ERPO laws. 

Research suggests that there are warning signs observable to others before most acts of violence.

  • Up to 80% of people considering suicide give some sign of their intentions.
  • An FBI study of the pre-attack behaviors of active shooters found that the average shooter displayed four to five observable and concerning behaviors over time, often related to the shooter’s mental health, problematic interpersonal interactions, or other signs of violent intentions.

Properly implemented and utilized extreme risk laws may help to prevent mass shootings and gun homicides. To date, states are already using these laws to temporarily disarm individuals that have made significant and credible threats of violence.

  • A case study of the use of California’s extreme risk law found at least 21 cases in which ERPOs were used to disarm people who threatened mass shootings, including a car dealership employee who threatened to shoot up his workplace and a high school student who threatened to commit a mass shooting at a school assembly. At the time this case study was published, none of the threatened shootings had occurred, and no other homicides or suicides by persons subject to the orders were identified by the researchers.
  • At least four individuals who made threats of violence against schools were disarmed in just the first three months after Maryland implemented its extreme risk law.
  • Similarly, extreme risk laws have been used to remove firearms from a Florida resident who said that murder would be “fun and addicting” and a Vermont resident who kept a diary titled “Journal of an Active Shooter.”

Extreme risk laws can also save lives from suicide by creating a tool to proactively intervene and keep those at risk of hurting themselves from accessing the most lethal means of suicide during temporary crisis periods. Narrower extreme risk laws in Connecticut and Indiana have been shown to be extremely effective at preventing firearm suicides.

  • For every 10 to 20 firearm removals under Connecticut’s and Indiana’s extreme risk laws, approximately one life was saved through an averted suicide.
  • Similarly, Connecticut’s and Indiana’s extreme risk laws have been shown to reduce firearm suicide rates in these states by 14% and 7.5%, respectively.


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