Law to Reduce Gun Deaths in WA State Goes Into Effect

Law Received Just Under 70 Percent Support in November Election

WASHINGTON, D.C. (December 8, 2016) – A new law that allows family and law enforcement to temporarily remove guns from a person in crisis goes into effect in Washington state today.

Passed as a ballot initiative during the November election, the Extreme Risk Protection Order (ERPO) gives family and law enforcement the ability to temporarily suspend a person’s access to firearms after a court determines a person is considered a threat to him or herself or others. Under ERPO, subjects must surrender their guns to law enforcement and will not be able to buy, sell, or possess firearms for up to one year.  The law passed with just under 70 percent support from Washington voters.  California, Connecticut, and Indiana have similar laws in place.

“Thousands of people would be alive today had they not had easy access to a gun while in crisis,” said Josh Horwitz, executive director of the Educational Fund to Stop Gun Violence.  “We look forward to expanding this life-saving tool to other states in the coming year,” added Horwitz.

Fifty-eight people die from suicide by gun every day, and suicides comprise two-thirds of all gun deaths in the U.S. The Educational Fund to Stop Gun Violence has been working on the implementation of a similar law in California and helped draft language for ERPO. The Educational Fund to Stop Gun Violence is assisting in ERPO’s implementation.

At least 11 states are expected to introduce comparable laws next year, including Delaware, Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Wisconsin.

Prior to ERPO’s passage, the Educational Fund to Stop Gun Violence released a data-driven report outlining the success of Connecticut’s risk-warrant law, which is similar to ERPO. The report, “Extreme Risk Protection Orders: An Opportunity to Save Lives in Washington,” is available online.

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