- A bipartisan group of senators introduced a plan that would temporarily strip guns from individuals deemed to be a threat to themselves or others.
- The order would require a hearing and evidence, or it would lapse after two weeks.
WASHINGTON – A bipartisan group of senators on Thursday introduced a new plan to immediately restrict access to firearms for individuals in certain crisis situations.
Sens. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, a Republican, and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, a Democrat, brought forth the “Federal Extreme Risk Protection Order Act,” which would create a system for family members or household members to report a person thought to be a risk to themselves or others, which would prompt law enforcement to take their firearms and hold a swift hearing.
The plan would require the family member petitioning to provide “probable cause to believe that a person poses a risk of imminent injury to him/herself or others and that an [Extreme Risk Protection Order] is necessary to eliminate that danger,” according to a summary of the legislation.
The ERPO would lapse after 14 days, with a hearing provided within 72 hours of its issuing. During the 14-day period, those deemed at risk would have to surrender any guns or ammunition to a US Marshal or designated law enforcement officer. If petitions are deemed frivolous or without foundation, accusers would face legal penalties.
Graham said he has spoken with Vice President Mike Pence about similar plans and that “it seeks to balance the Second Amendment rights of the individual with concerns from law enforcement and family members about those who may be experiencing a mental health crisis.”
“The bill we introduce today is a starting point,” he said. “It’s the place where we begin a long-overdue discussion about firearms and mental health. But we must start.”
Blumenthal called Republicans’ openness to the plan a “bipartisan breakthrough” and “major promising development.”
“The Parkland shooting illustrates why this law is important,” Blumenthal said in a press conference, referencing the deadly school shooting in Parkland, Florida last month. “There were plenty of warning signs that Nikolas Cruz was a danger. There were people who obeyed the adage ‘if you see something, say something.’ The FBI received tips – so did local law enforcement – that Cruz was in fact threatening to do violence with guns. They said something but nobody did anything.”
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