Esty Introduces ‘Gun Violence Restraining Order Act’
Washington, D.C. – To mark the third Anniversary of the tragic shooting in Isla Vista, California, Reps. Elizabeth Esty (Ct-5), Salud Carbajal (CA-24), and Don Beyer (VA-08) introduced the Gun Violence Restraining Order Act, a bill that encourages all states to empower families and law enforcement agencies with the tools they need to prevent future tragedies due to gun violence.
The bill would incentivize states to enable family members to seek a “gun violence prevention order” in court to temporarily stop someone who poses a threat to themselves or others from purchasing or possessing a gun. The bill would also ensure that a court can issue a “gun violence prevention warrant,” allowing law enforcement to step in if the court determines the individual poses a threat to themselves or others.
While states like Connecticut and California have led the way on important measures to combat gun violence, this bill would encourage other states to adopt proven preventative measures by establishing a federal grant program to help pay for their implementation.
Connecticut has had a “Gun Violence Restraining Order” law on the books since 1999. In that time, research by Duke University’s School of Medicine estimates that gun removals from high-risk people in Connecticut may have prevented up to 100 suicides.
“In Connecticut, nearly two decades of evidence shows that empowering families and law enforcement to prevent gun violence saves lives,” Esty said. “While Connecticut, California, and other states have taken important steps forward, in most states, families are powerless to do anything to prevent loved ones who may be an extreme risk to themselves or others from purchasing or possessing firearms. That puts all of our communities at risk. It’s long past time for Congress to learn the lessons of the Isla Vista tragedy – and the 100,000 gun-related deaths and more than 200,000 injures since that day – and take action to protect American families.”
“The tragedy in Isla Vista is once again a reminder of the consequences of inaction by lawmakers on the epidemic of gun violence across our nation,” Carbajal said. “Three years ago, six lives were cut far too short in a tragedy that could have been prevented if law enforcement were given the proper tools help those that pose a risk to themselves or to our communities. California has led the way in implementing common-sense, proven measures to reduce gun violence, but this cannot be the end of our efforts to address gun violence throughout the United States.”
“In Connecticut, our Gun Violence Restraining Order law, often referred to as our Risk Warrant law, has been one of the most effective among our many nation-leading bills that have saved lives in our state,” said Ron Pinciaro, Executive Director of CT Against Gun Violence. “The recent Duke University study has documented how. As the law continues to become more widely known and used by Connecticut residents, even more lives will be saved every year. Every state deserves the opportunity to reduce gun deaths by this process that saves lives while respecting the rights of gun owners.”
Dr. Jeffrey Swanson, Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Duke University’s School of Medicine, said: “Our research study in Connecticut showed that a risk-based, temporary gun-removal policy can save lives. In practice, the policy has been used especially to protect people at very high risk of suicide with ready access to firearms. One suicide death was prevented for every 10 to 20 gun removal actions, our study found. These laws are designed to promote safety, while also safeguarding the rights of gun owners. We encourage all states to adopt similar policies.”
Richard Martinez, the father of an Isla Vista shooting victim, said: "Our 20 year old son, Christopher, was shot and killed three years ago in the Isla Vista rampage. Every day more than 90 Americans are shot and killed. With each new tragedy, it becomes increasingly hard for Congress to justify their inaction and complicity in our nation's gun violence epidemic. I urge our lawmakers to act – pass this legislation so that not one more family has to live through my family's nightmare."
The Gun Violence Restraining Order Act would encourage states to take the following steps to help prevent gun violence:
• Enable families and others to go to court to seek a gun violence prevention order to temporarily stop someone close to them who poses a threat to themselves or others from purchasing a firearm;
• Enable courts to issue a gun violence prevention warrant that would allow law enforcement to take temporary possession of firearms that are in an individual’s possession if the court determines that the individual poses a threat to themselves or others; and
• Ensure that law enforcement makes full use of all existing state and local gun databases when assessing a tip, warning, or request from a concerned family member or other close associate.
U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) will introduce the Gun Violence Restraining Order Act in the Senate.