Washington—Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Representative Salud Carbajal (both D-Calif.) today introduced the Extreme Risk Protection Order Act, a bill to help states enact laws that allow family members and law enforcement to acquire temporary court orders to have guns removed from dangerous individuals.
One state that has already enacted such a law is California, where an extreme risk protection order law was passed in 2016 after a gunman killed six students in Isla Vista. The shooter had exhibited warning signs on social media and his mother warned local law enforcement about his behavior. Unfortunately, they were powerless to stop him from obtaining a gun.
However, only 19 states and the District of Columbia currently have extreme risk protection order laws. This bill is intended to make it easier for more states to enact these life-saving laws.
“Extreme risk protection orders save lives by keeping guns out of the hands of people who are a threat to themselves or others,” said Senator Feinstein. “California has shown that these laws work. Our commonsense bill would help more states enact similar laws that respect due process rights while giving families and law enforcement a way to remove guns from dangerous individuals.”
“I lost my older sister to suicide with a firearm at a young age and then, in 2014, our community experienced horrible tragedy when a gunman killed six students in Isla Vista. What I’ve learned since is that temporarily preventing people from having a gun while in a state of crisis, and giving our law enforcement the right tools to address dangerous behaviors, saves lives,” said Representative Carbajal. “As lawmakers, we have a responsibility to honor the victims and survivors of gun violence with action. Extreme risk protection orders have saved lives in California and this legislation will help other states implement this lifesaving policy.”
The Extreme Risk Protection Order Act would allow states to use federal funding to enact laws to allow family members to petition a court for a gun violence prevention order to temporarily block dangerous individuals from purchasing weapons from federally licensed dealers. If a prevention order are granted, the individual would be designated a prohibited purchaser in the NICS background check system.
States could also enact laws that would allow family members to petition a court for an extreme risk protection order that would grant law enforcement the authority to temporarily take weapons from dangerous individuals who present a threat to themselves or others. The bill contains significant due process protections by ensuring confidentiality and the opportunity to be heard by a judge.
In the Senate, the bill is cosponsored by Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Alex Padilla (D-Calif.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) and Cory Booker (D-N.J.).
“My son Chris is dead – shot and killed in Isla Vista, California May 23, 2014 – a college student 20 years old. His killer had a long history of serious mental health issues, three handguns and more than 500 rounds of ammunition,” said Richard Martinez, gun violence survivor and outreach associate for Everytown for Gun Safety. “Motivated by misogyny he intended to kill as many people as he could. There were warning signs. I applaud Rep. Carbajal for introducing the Extreme Risk Protection Order Act. We know ERPO laws save lives. Congress must act to prevent more senseless tragedy. Not one more.”
“Extreme risk protection orders are one of the most important tools to help prevent tragedies involving firearms. In 19 states and the District of Columbia, extreme risk laws are working and allowing family members and law enforcement to temporarily disarm someone at risk of harming themselves or others while protecting due process rights. This procedure should be available in every state across the country,” said Adzi Vokhiwa, federal affairs director at Giffords. “We applaud Senator Feinstein and Congressman Carbajal for introducing this legislation to help more states enact and implement extreme risk laws and save lives from gun suicides and homicides.”
“After the horrific 2013 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, we knew that we had to act so this tragedy would never happen again. That’s why the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence convened a working group that issued models for the first modern Extreme Risk Protection Order,” said Josh Horwitz, executive director of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence. “ERPO laws are already saving lives in 19 states and the District of Columbia, and I am grateful that gun violence prevention champions like Senator Feinstein and Representative Carbajal are working hard to protect our communities and address this public health crisis. ERPO laws work to prevent gun violence in its many tragic forms – from death by gun suicide, domestic violence, violence on a community level, to mass shootings. The Extreme Risk Protection Order Act will save lives on a national scale, and CSGV is proud to endorse this legislation.”