Today, Everytown for Gun Safety, Moms Demand Action, and Students Demand Action applauded the House Judiciary Committee for passing Rep. Lucy McBath’s (D-GA) Federal Extreme Risk Protection Order Act of 2021 out of committee. Next up for the bill is a vote on the House floor before moving onto the Senate. Today also marks three years since the Tree of Life Synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh, where the shooter posted anti-semetic and xenophobic comments online for weeks before the shooting, including just hours before the attack, posting “screw your optics, I’m going in.”
The bill would allow family members and law enforcement to go to a federal court to request an extreme risk protection order that would temporarily remove access to firearms from dangerous situations. The legislation establishes clear legal standards for when a federal order could be issued including strong due process protections, and it would give family members and law enforcement in all fifty states a path to take action when there is evidence someone is in crisis.
“So many shootings and suicides are slow-motion tragedies, and extreme risk protection orders are a common-sense way for law enforcement and loved ones to temporarily disarm someone who poses a danger to themselves or others,” said John Feinblatt, president of Everytown for Gun Safety. “Rep. Lucy McBath knows the terrible pain of gun violence firsthand, and we are incredibly grateful for her leadership in Washington.”
“Extreme risk laws have been proven to save lives and prevent gun violence before it happens, which is why it’s so critical that it be available to everyone no matter where you live,” said Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action. “Our grassroots volunteers across the country are proud to support this legislation and are forever grateful for the courage and leadership Representative McBath continues to show in the fight to end gun violence.”
“H.R. 2377, the ‘Federal Extreme Risk Protection Order Act of 2021,’ is an important measure to help address gun violence in America,” said House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-NY) during the markup. “This federal provision would ensure that law enforcement, as well as family members and household members of those who pose an immediate risk of harm to themselves or others, have consistent access to courts to seek ERPOs, and would enable continuity of enforcement of ERPOs across state lines… I thank our colleague, Representative Lucy McBath, for championing this effort by introducing this bill, and I urge all of my colleagues to support this important legislation.”
“Across the country, survivors, families, and advocates have demanded we do more to save American lives. These (extreme risk) laws keep firearms out of the hands of those that pose a danger to themselves or to others,” said Rep. Lucy McBath (D-GA) during the markup. “They have been passed by state legislatures controlled by Republicans and Democrats and they’ve been signed by governors of both parties. Every American deserves access to this life saving tool and that is what my bill provides.”
Everytown has endorsed Rep. McBath’s Federal Extreme Risk Protection Order Act of 2021 and has been raising awareness of the effectiveness of these extreme risk laws for some time now. The need for extreme risk laws has never been more important than in the era of mass shootings.
Extreme risk laws empower loved ones or law enforcement to intervene and temporarily prevent someone in crisis from accessing firearms. These laws, sometimes referred to as “red flag” laws, can help de-escalate emergency situations. They are a proven way to intervene before an incident of gun violence—such as a firearm suicide or mass shooting—occurs and takes more lives.
According to an Everytown report, in 51 percent of mass shootings from 2009 to 2017, the attacker exhibited warning signs before the shooting. For example, before killing six people in Isla Vista, California in May 2014, the shooter made homicidal and suicidal threats, and his parents alerted law enforcement. But, there was nothing they could legally do to remove his firearms. On suicide prevention, research shows that access to a firearm triples one’s risk of death by suicide. Across all suicide attempts not involving a firearm, 4 percent result in death. But for gun suicide, those statistics are flipped: Approximately 90 percent of gun suicide attempts end in death. The vast majority of survivors of a suicide attempt do not go on to die by suicide.
States that have implemented extreme risk laws have already seen positive impacts. After Connecticut increased its enforcement of its extreme risk law, one study found the law to be associated with a 14 percent reduction in the state’s firearm suicide rate. In the 10 years since Indiana passed its extreme risk law in 2005, the state’s firearm suicide rate decreased by 7.5 percent. Like Connecticut, another study estimated that Indiana’s extreme risk law averted one suicide for approximately every 10 gun removals. In all, 19 states and the District of Columbia have passed some sort of extreme risk law.
Beyond the effectiveness of extreme risk laws, they are exceptionally popular with wide swaths of the American public. A poll from Morning Consult last year found voters overwhelmingly agree with legislation like an extreme risk law — including a majority of voters in every single state. Across the country, overwhelming majorities believe that family or law enforcement should be able to petition a court to temporarily suspend a person’s access to firearms if they have evidence that the person poses a serious threat to themselves or others. That includes 90 percent of Democrats, nearly 80 percent of Independents, and 73 percent of Republicans.
Everytown’s report on extreme risk laws and their efficacy can be found here.