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Military Veterans Urge Members Of The Senate To Support A Strong Extreme Risk Bill

Dear Members of Congress,

As military veterans, we write to urge you to pass a strong Extreme Risk law, which would empower families and law enforcement to intervene when there is evidence that someone poses a threat to themselves or others. Any such legislation should support the 15 states that have already passed Extreme Risk laws and seek to expand access to this life-saving tool to every state in the nation.

In 2004, Pat Tillman, who left a lucrative NFL career to serve his country following the September 11th attacks, was killed by friendly fire in Afghanistan. His brother Kevin, who joined the military with Pat, was just several yards away when this happened. After his brother was killed, Kevin tensed up, started yelling and began walking aimlessly back and forth. At that moment, another Ranger, who was concerned that Kevin might try to harm himself or someone else, took Kevin’s rifle.

This heartbreaking story offers a glimpse for civilians into how the military handles firearm safety. In an emergency, it is a leader’s responsibility to temporarily separate a soldier from his or her weapon if they detect warning signs. This common sense, emergency intervention can save lives.

Congress should pass Extreme Risk legislation that would save lives by creating a similar process in the civilian world to temporarily separate people who are at risk of hurting themselves or others from firearms. We urge you to stand up to attempts from the gun lobby to promote a bill that would actually punish states that have adopted this life-saving policy.

The gun lobby-backed bill would penalize the 15 states that allow courts to issue emergency orders and require firearm removal when there is evidence someone is in a clear and present crisis. Temporary emergency removal is critical to prevent tragedies. Indeed, it is the only way to ensure a dangerous situation is defused immediately.

Without emergency removal of firearms, families and law enforcement would have no way to immediately intervene to de-escalate a crisis. But if the gun lobby has its way, laws with emergency removal would not receive federal funding. The only systems that could be funded are those that give people at risk of dying by suicide or carrying out a school shooting several days’ or weeks’ notice before a hearing can be held to determine if they should have access to firearms. That would give them ample time to do harm to themselves or others and leave those who have noticed warning signs powerless to stop them.

Extreme Risk laws are critical tools to prevent mass shootings and gun suicides, something that we care deeply about as military veterans. But, they only work when they provide family members and law enforcement with the tools to immediately deescalate dangerous situations. For the safety of all Americans, we implore you to stand up to the gun lobby and demand strong Extreme Risk legislation.

Sincerely,

Members of the Everytown for Gun Safety Veterans Advisory Council, including:

Cmdr. Sarah Dachos
U.S. Navy, retired

Lt. Col. Jason Dempsey
U.S. Army, retired

Michael Diamond
U.S. Army veteran

Lindsey Donovan
U.S. Army veteran

Kyle Hausmann-Stokes
U.S. Army veteran

Lt. Col. Neil Hester
U.S. Air Force, retired

Kristen Kavanaugh
U.S. Marine Corps veteran

Peter Lucier
U.S. Marine Corps veteran

Becky Margiotta
U.S. Army veteran

Capt. Aaron Marquez
U.S. Army Reserve

Capt. Chris Marvin
U.S. Army, retired

Melody McFadden
U.S. Army veteran

Justin McFarlin
U.S. Army veteran

Maj. Dan Meyers
U.S. Marine Corps Reserve

Alonzo Neese
U.S. Marine Corps veteran

Maili Neverosky
U.S. Navy veteran

Lt. Col. Teri Poulton
U.S. Air Force, retired

Jihad Sakhnini
U.S. Army veteran

Amber Schleuning
U.S. Army veteran

Anthony Swofford
U.S. Marine Corps veteran

1 st Sgt. Michael Washington
U.S. Marine Corps, retired

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