May 10, 2019

Cortez Masto Cosponsors Bill to Reduce Gun Violence in Communities

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) joined Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Senate colleagues to cosponsor the Extreme Risk Protection Order Act, which would provide grants to states to implement extreme risk laws. This bill would empower states to develop court processes that allow family members to temporarily remove guns from the hands of dangerous individuals.

“Family and friends are often the first to notice when their loved ones are in distress. It is common sense that those family members be given the opportunity to work with law enforcement to keep guns out of the hands of those who may be a danger to themselves or others. This legislation will help states enact laws to allow families seek the help their loved ones need and help local law enforcement to partner with their communities to keep people safe.”   

In addition to Senators Cortez Masto and Feinstein, this bill is cosponsored by Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Angus King (I-Maine), Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.).

BACKGROUND

The Extreme Risk Protection Order Act would allow states to use COPS funding to develop court processes 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 were granted, the individual would be designated a prohibited purchaser in the NICS background check system. States could also develop court processes that would allow family members to petition a court for an extreme risk protection order that would grant law enforcement the authority to temporarily remove 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.

States with Extreme Risk laws have seen positive results. Connecticut and Indiana have long-standing extreme risk laws that allow law enforcement officers to intervene when people in crisis 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.

This legislation is supported by Giffords: Courage to Fight Gun Violence, Everytown for Gun Safety, March for Our Lives, the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, Sandy Hook Promise and the Coalition Against Gun Violence.

###