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Brady Calls on Congress to Pass a Federal Extreme Risk Law

Following a hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee on the importance and efficacy of extreme risk orders, Brady calls on Congress to pass this important policy without delay

Washington, D.C., April 28, 2021 - Following a hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee on extreme risk laws, sometimes called ‘red flag laws,’ Brady calls on Congress to act on meaningful extreme risk legislation. Extreme risk laws have been proven effective, upheld as constitutional, and are a critical tool to help ensure that temporary crises do not become permanent tragedies.

Brady President Kris Brown shared:

“Today’s hearing is historic but not without precedent. The 116th and 115th Congresses both probed the importance of extreme risk laws. It is time for Congress to act and finally pass such a policy into law. These laws draw bipartisan support, in fact both Sen. Lindsay Graham held a hearing on extreme risk laws in 2019 while Sen. Marco Rubio introduced an extreme risk law bill in 2018. 19 states plus D.C. already have an extreme risk law.

Extreme risk laws provide a mechanism for the courts and law enforcement to temporarily remove a firearm from individuals who are a proven risk to themselves or others. These laws can help to prevent tragedies such as suicide by gun, which accounts for over 60 percent of gun deaths each year, and mass shootings. As we have seen in Indianapolis, a failure to seek such an order can have tragic and deadly results. We are still learning all the facts in that case but it is clear that an extreme risk order could have and should have been sought.

These laws are among the pantheon of effective and common-sense violence reduction strategies that Congress must enact. President Biden has likewise emphasized the importance of these laws in his instruction to the Department of Justice to release model legislation for states to emulate and adopt. Brady thanks Sen. Blumenthal for convening this hearing and drawing attention to this important issue.”

About Extreme Risk Laws:

Extreme risk laws allow a family member, law enforcement, or other key individuals,as allowed by each state,to present evidence to a civil court judge that an individual is a risk to themselves or others. Such orders allow law enforcement to temporarily remove guns from an individual and prohibit the purchase of new firearms. The behavioral risk factors that are typically considered by a judge in an extreme risk law case include:

  • Patterns or recent threats and acts of violence

  • Dangerous past behavior with guns

  • Substance abuse

  • Recent firearms or ammunition acquisition

A judge may consider these and other factors when considering whether or not to intervene. The at-risk individual is allowed an opportunity to be heard and present other evidence before the judge in a civil — not criminal — court hearing.

If the judge finds that the evidence warrants temporarily removing guns from the individual, then the judge issues an order known as an extreme risk protection order (ERPO). An ERPO prevents the person in crisis from purchasing a gun and allows law enforcement to temporarily hold any guns already owned for safekeeping.

At a subsequent hearing, the extreme risk order can be extended if there is additional evidence that the person in crisis continues to be a threat to themselves or others. The individual can again present evidence in their defense.

About the Shooting in Indianapolis:

On the evening of Thursday, April 15, 2021, a gunman opened fire at a FedEx facility in Indianapolis, Indiana, killing eight people and injuring five others. While facts continue to emerge, it has been confirmed that law enforcement removed firearms from the shooter in 2020 after their mother contacted law enforcement with concerns. Despite this, no extreme risk order was sought in the case, allowing the shooter to purchase new firearms at a later date. Those firearms were later used in the shooting at the FedEx facility.

The shooter could have been subject to an extreme risk order. Indiana’s extreme risk law is among the oldest in the nation and has been used to prevent violence since it’s passage in 2005. According to a study from the University of Indianapolis in the decade after the laws enactment, there was a 7.5 percent decrease in firearm-related suicides statewide, while more than 400 people were subject to such orders in the period from 2006 to 2013. That law has saved lives and possibly could have in this case.

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Brady has one powerful mission — to unite all Americans against gun violence. We work across Congress, the courts, and our communities with over 90 grassroots chapters, bringing together young and old, red and blue, and every shade of color to find common ground in common sense. In the spirit of our namesakes Jim and Sarah Brady, we have fought for over 45 years to take action, not sides, and we will not stop until this epidemic ends. It’s in our hands.


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