August 29, 2018 Press Releases

Giffords, The Educational Fund to Stop Gun Violence, and the Alliance for Gun Responsibility Announce Extreme Risk Law Toolkit

SEATTLE, WA — Over the past year, we have seen tremendous accomplishments by state legislatures working to combat the dangers of gun violence, with 26 states implementing 57 bills designed to keep guns out of dangerous hands. Eight of these bills were Extreme Risk Laws. Now, the Alliance for Gun Responsibility is proud to announce a state legislative toolkit to help advocates, legislators, and other key stakeholders enact and implement Extreme Risk Laws to prevent future tragedies and keep guns out of dangerous hands.

The Extreme Risk Law Toolkit, released today, is a collaboration between three organizations: Giffords, the gun safety organization founded by former Representative Gabrielle Giffords and Captain Mark Kelly; the Educational Fund to Stop Gun Violence, a public health think tank that identifies and implements evidence-based policy solutions and programs to reduce gun violence in all its forms; and the Alliance for Gun Responsibility, the leading voice of the gun violence prevention movement in Washington and a driver of gun violence prevention initiatives nationwide. The toolkit details ways in which lawmakers, advocates, and stakeholders can take action to help implement Extreme Risk Laws.

States with Extreme Risk Laws or similar versions of these laws include:

  • California

  • Connecticut

  • Delaware

  • Florida

  • Illinois

  • Indiana

  • Maryland

  • Massachusetts

  • New Jersey

  • Oregon

  • Rhode Island

  • Vermont

  • Washington

“While the federal government continues to stall in implementing effective gun safety protections, we’ve witnessed states step up and pass legislation that are proven to help keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people,” said Peter Ambler, Executive Director of Giffords. “This toolkit provides clears steps lawmakers must take to protect the communities from gun violence. Extreme Risk Laws have been highly effective at saving lives, and lawmakers seeking answers on how to reduce violent crime can look no further than the resources provided by our organizations. We’re encouraged at the willingness of states to take up these life-saving measures, and we look forward to working with legislators in the near future to help pass these bills in their state capitals.”

“Governors and state lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have begun to recognize that Extreme Risk Laws are critical to keeping their constituents safe from gun violence in all its forms; by reducing at-risk individuals’ access to firearms, Extreme Risk Laws decrease the likelihood of gun homicide and suicide,” said Josh Horwitz, Executive Director of the Educational Fund to Stop Gun Violence. “These policies should be enacted in every state in the nation, and this toolkit gives states the resources to do just that. We are honored to be part of this collaboration, and we look forward to helping all 50 states draft, pass, and enact Extreme Risk Laws.”

“Washington state was among the first states in the country to create an Extreme Risk Law when voters passed Initiative 1491 in 2016. Almost immediately, our Extreme Risk Law began saving lives,” said Alliance for Gun Responsibility CEO Renee Hopkins. “Families and law enforcement in every corner of Washington state have used hundreds of Extreme Risk Protection Orders to prevent firearm suicides, domestic violence, and remove firearms from the hands of prohibited individuals. Since then, almost a dozen more states have put similar policies in to place. This toolkit gives states without them the tools they need to enact these meaningful laws and save lives. Washington is proud to continue to lead the way in innovative tools to prevent gun violence.”

Read the Extreme Risk Law Toolkit

About 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.

  • 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 the civil court in their jurisdiction for an order based on evidence they present through a written application and 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 and ammunition returned upon expiration of the order.

  • States with Extreme Risk Laws have seen positive results and are saving lives. 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 are in crisis and have easy access to guns. In the first 14 years of the implementation of Connecticut’s law, it is estimated that one life was saved for every 10-20 risk-warrants issued. In addition, nearly one third of respondents received critical mental health and substance abuse treatment as a result of the intervention.

  • 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.

 

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