BOSTON- Representative David Linsky (D-Natick) hosted a Gun Violence Prevention Lobby Day on July 18, where dozens of advocates and supporters from across the country joined together in support of H.3081, An Act relative to extreme risk protective orders. The bill, filed by Representative Linsky, was heard at a Public Hearing of the Joint Committee on the Judiciary following the Lobby Day. Among the group who spoke both at the lobby day and hearing in support of Representative Linsky’s bill were representatives from Americans for Responsible Solutions, Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, Stop Handgun Violence, and the Massachusetts Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence.
“Massachusetts has some of the most effective gun laws in the country. We have one of the lowest rates of gun violence and gun deaths in the country. That is because we know that effective gun laws work. Plain and simple, Extreme Risk Protective Orders save lives. Let’s make our Commonwealth’s gun laws even stronger by passing this bill,” said Representative Linsky. “I thank everyone who came today to speak on behalf of H.3081. It means a lot to me, and to all of the citizens of Massachusetts, because this bill saves lives.”
An Extreme Risk Protective Order (ERPO) is a civil court order that would expand upon current Massachusetts law by temporarily restricting access to firearms by persons who exhibit dangerous or threatening behaviors towards themselves or others, but who are not otherwise prohibited under federal or state law. Studies have shown that individuals who are in the throes of a crisis, and are engaged in dangerous behaviors, are significantly more likely to commit an act of violence towards themselves or others within the near future. The procedures for obtaining, enforcing, and terminating an ERPO would closely follow a procedure followed in Chapter 209A relative to domestic violence restraining orders, thereby utilizing many of the court and law enforcement systems already in place.
“One year ago today, my father purchased the gun that he would eventually use to take his own life,” said Jenna Yuille, Engagement Manager for Americans for Responsible Solutions and a survivor of gun violence. “While it’s too late to save my father’s life, this proposal may someday save the life of someone you know. I’m honored to support this legislation and am grateful for Rep. Linsky’s leadership on this important bill. I urge Massachusetts’ elected leaders to help give families the tools they need to prevent gun tragedies and save lives.”
“The Extreme Risk Protective Order would be a lifesaving tool for the people of Massachusetts. Using ERPO, concerned family members and law enforcement would be able to petition a court to temporarily remove guns from those who pose a danger to themselves or others,” said Josh Horwitz, Executive Director of Coalition to Stop Gun Violence. “After all, those closest to us are often the first to notice the signs of crisis. This tool would allow family members and law enforcement to prevent tragedies before they occur. Massachusetts has the opportunity to be the next state to reduce gun violence in all its forms by passing H.3081 into law.”
Studies have shown that a gun in the home is 22 times more likely to be used to kill or injure someone in a domestic homicide, suicide, or unintentional shooting than to be used in self-defense. There are 20,000 gun suicides every year, which accounts for over half of all suicides, and two-thirds of all gun deaths.
“Representative Linsky’s Extreme Risk Protective Order bill will empower families to intervene when a family member in crisis poses an extreme risk to themselves or others,” said Angus McQuilken, Co-founder of the Massachusetts Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence. “This law will save lives by addressing the two leading causes of gun death, suicide and homicide. Firearms are the most lethal form of suicide, and if we remove the gun from the equation, we can prevent senseless tragedies. This bill is based on laws in other states, such as Connecticut, that are using this mechanism effectively to prevent loss of life. We urge the Legislature to approve this life-saving legislation, and send it to the Governor for his signature as soon as possible.”
The ERPO is a tool that originated by request from California law enforcement after the deadly shooting on the University of California Santa Barbara campus in 2014, where the shooter had exhibited dangerous behaviors, and despite warning from family members and mental health professionals, law enforcement did not intervene. Similar laws have been passed in Washington, Connecticut, Indiana, and Oregon.
“Laws similar to the Extreme Risk Protective Order being proposed in Massachusetts have been able to save lives in other states,” said Allison Anderman, Managing Attorney for the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence and the Americans for Responsible Solutions Foundation. “With this responsible legislation, Massachusetts has a real opportunity to help individuals in crisis who are at an elevated risk of injuring themselves or others and remove guns from dangerous situations. I applaud Rep. Linsky for introducing this lifesaving bill that has the potential to prevent future gun tragedies in Massachusetts.”
In the last decade, 2,287 people from Massachusetts were killed by gunfire, and in 2015, 55% of all gun deaths in Massachusetts were suicides.
“Today, I was proud to testify in support of this bill with a broad coalition of advocates that included law enforcement, gun owners, victims, clergy, and policy experts,” said John Rosenthal, Founder of Stop Handgun Violence. “If passed, this bill will save lives by empowering families and medical professionals to take action where a loved one or patient is in the middle of a mental health crisis. Proven policies like this one will keep Massachusetts a national leader on gun violence prevention.”
“Meaningful gun laws save lives,” said Representative Linsky. “I urge the members of the Judiciary Committee to release H.3081 favorably, and for the rest of my colleagues to support this common sense piece of legislation as it advances through the legislative process.”