H3081: A Common Sense Gun Law We Need NOW!

You may have heard of H3081 – Extreme Risk Protective Order; a common sense gun law that is in the legislature this session. What does it mean exactly? Here is an explanation:

An Extreme Risk Protective Order (ERPO) is a court-issued civil order that would empower Massachusetts families and law enforcement to prevent gun tragedies by reducing access to guns for individuals at an elevated risk of endangering themselves or others. An ERPO temporarily prohibits the purchase and possession of firearms and requires the removal of any firearms currently possessed while the order is in effect.

We need this law. This is a TINY step, but a necessary one. Here is a graphic from the New York Times, showing the distribution of gun-related deaths in the US. You can see that in 2016 more there were more than 22,000 gun suicides. Would H3081 fix this problem? Probably not, but it would certainly be a small step forward.

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So in light of our latest gun tragedies, I suggest that we do more than send our ‘thoughts & prayers’ to those in Texas. Let’s all write letters to our legislators supporting H3081. Let’s send them to the Joint Committee on the Judiciary. Let’s ask the committee to report the bill out favorably. Let’s ask legislators to talk to leadership about bringing the bill to the floor for a vote. The time for action is NOW! It isn’t too soon to talk about gun laws; it’s too late for many.

Notes: personal letters are most effective. Mass emails lose their impact. So below are some talking points & resources to make writing an informed letter a bit easier.

Pick one or two points that resonate with you. The letter doesn’t need to be long or complicated. Just express your sincere support for this bill.

See example below.

Talking Points:

  • Research shows that most Americans support common sense gun laws. 89% of Americans agree that mentally ill people should not be able to purchase guns.
  • 2287 MA residents were killed by gunfire in the last decade.
  • 55% of MA gun related deaths in 2015 were suicides.
  • One life is saved for every 10-20 risk-warrants issued. (CT ERPO-style law)
  • Suicide accounts for nearly two-thirds of gun deaths in the United States, killing over 21,000 Americans each year.
  • Guns are used in over half of all suicide deaths, because guns are more lethal than other methods.
  • Access to a gun is associated with a significant increase in risk of suicide. A review of fourteen studies found that household gun access triples the risk of death by suicide.
  • Reducing a suicidal person’s access to firearms – by temporarily removing them during acute mental crisis – is likely to save their life. Suicide is often an impulsive act; many survivors of suicide attempts report spending less than 10 minutes deliberating before their suicidal act.
  • Under ERPO laws, immediate family members, law enforcement medical workers present evidence to a judge that a person in crisis is too dangerous to have guns.

Example:

Senator Joan Lovely
24 Beacon Street
Room 413A
Boston, MA 02133

Dear Senator Lovely,

I am writing to voice my support for H3081 – An Act Establishing Extreme Risk Protection Orders. Please indicate why you support this bill. 

Pick one or two points, for example:

As you may be aware 55% of gun related deaths in Massachusetts were suicide in 2015. H3081 gives families, law enforcement & health care providers a way to prevent suicide when a person is in crisis. It temporarily removes the gun(s) & ammunition from the person in crisis. And evidence has shown that in other states with ERPO laws, suicide rates are reduced.

Sum up your ask – as colleagues to vote favorably AND talk to leadership. Co-sponsor the bill as well. And ask for a response.

I don’t want to wait until another person dies from a preventable gun-related incident. Now is the time to act. I have attended hearings at the state house, submitted written testimony in support of common sense gun laws, and candlelight vigils remembering victims of mass murders resulting from lack of common sense gun laws. I am asking you to support this bill and ask your colleagues to report it favorably out of committee. Can you also talk with leadership to help move this bill forward during this session?

I would love to hear your thoughts or concerns regarding this legislation. Please let me know if you can help move this forward.

Regards,

Additional Resources:

MA ERPO FAQ (2)

MA ERPO Legal Memo (2)

MA ERPO One Pager (2)

How To Reduce Shootings, by Nicholas Kristof

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