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Beyer Joins Reps. Carbajal and Esty to Introduce Bicameral Legislation to Reduce Gun Violence, Empower Families

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Washington, May 24, 2017 | comments

Rep. Beyer yesterday joined Congressman Salud Carbajal (CA-24) and Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty (CT-05) in introducing the Gun Violence Restraining Order Act, a bill that clears the way for states to empower families and law enforcement agencies with the tools they need to prevent future tragedies due to gun violence.

“We need to give families and law enforcement officers the ability to temporarily block gun purchases to anyone currently in mental crisis,” said Rep. Beyer. “When a person is an imminent danger to themselves or others, society has a compelling responsibility to keep them from purchasing a firearm that may be used irresponsibly, and with deadly effect.”

The bill would incentivize states to enable family members to go to a court to seek a “gun violence prevention order,” to temporarily stop someone who poses a threat to themselves or others from purchasing or possessing a gun. The bill will 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.

“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,” said Congressman Carbajal. “Three years ago, the lives of six University of California, Santa Barbara students were cut far too short in a tragedy that could have been prevented had law enforcement been 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.”

The bill was introduced on the third anniversary of the tragic shooting in Isla Vista, California.

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."

U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein will introduce The Gun Violence Restraining Order Act in the Senate.

“One common thread that runs through mass shootings in this country is that family and friends were often aware that the perpetrators had significant mental illnesses and posed a threat to themselves or others,” said Senator Feinstein. “The family of the Isla Vista shooter had called law enforcement, fearing what their son might do. Families have little recourse if they want to ensure their loved ones do not get their hands on guns that they could use to kill themselves or other people. Our bill would help states establish a court process to allow that to happen. Senator Boxer first introduced this bill and I’m proud to carry her work forward.”

While states like California and Connecticut 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.

“In Connecticut, nearly two decades of evidence shows that empowering families and law enforcement to prevent gun violence saves lives,” Congresswoman 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 owning 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 injuries since that day – and take action to protect American families.”

Background:

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.

Read the full bill text here.

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