Nevada has already come a long way when it comes to gun safety this legislative session. Earlier this year, legislation that will require background checks on all gun sales in the state was passed by the legislature and signed into law by Gov. Sisolak.
Now, the legislature is considering adding an Extreme Risk law to the omnibus bill package, AB291.
Extreme Risk laws allow families and law enforcement to ask a judge to temporarily suspend a person’s access to guns if there are clear signs that person poses a serious threat to themselves or others. When someone is in a state of crisis, or threatening violence against themselves or other people, access to a firearm can mean the difference between life and death.
This type of legislation gained traction in the wake of the Parkland shooting, where 14 students and three staff members were shot and killed. Now, 15 states and DC have Extreme Risk laws.
Here’s how an Extreme Risk law could save lives in Nevada:
- Extreme Risk laws can help prevent school shootings. These laws can provide law enforcement with an important tool in cases where a person who poses a risk to a school possesses, can purchase, or has access to firearms. For example, students and teachers reported that the mass shooter in the February 2018 Parkland, Florida tragedy displayed threatening behavior. His mother had contacted law enforcement on multiple occasions regarding his behavior, and he was known to possess firearms. However, without an Extreme Risk law on the books, law enforcement couldn’t intervene. In response to that tragedy, Florida passed its own Extreme Risk law.
- Extreme Risk laws can help prevent mass shootings. In October 2017, Nevada experienced the deadliest mass shooting in modern history when a gunman opened fire on a concert in Las Vegas and in a matter of minutes killed 58 people and injured over 400. Perpetrators of mass shootings and school shootings often display warning signs before committing violent acts. Interventions in states with Extreme Risk laws have already prevented these potential tragedies. For example, in Maryland, an Extreme Risk law passed in 2018 has been invoked in at least four cases involving “significant threats” against schools, according to leaders of the Maryland Sheriff’s Association.
- Extreme Risk laws can help prevent suicides. Extreme Risk laws empower family members to give someone they love a second chance to get the help they need in a time of crisis. Most people who attempt suicide do not die – unless they use a gun. Eighty-five percent of suicide attempts with a gun end in death; but without a gun, less than five percent of suicide attempts result in death. In Connecticut, the increased enforcement of an Extreme Risk law was associated with a 14 percent reduction in the state’s firearm suicide rate.
The below stories are a small sampling that provide important illustrations of the vital role of Extreme Risk laws in preventing people in crisis from accessing firearms:
- In Escambia County, Florida, a high school student was stalking his ex-girlfriend after she broke up with him. At one point he attempted to punch a boy who was with her. The student also threatened to post naked photos of the girl on social media, said he would kill himself if she didn’t get back together with him, and posted photos of an AR-15 online. Two resource officers submitted affidavits for a petition against him and all the firearms were removed from his home.
- In Randolph, Massachusetts, a woman filed an extreme risk protection order against a Marine Corps veteran who she says had assaulted her and had a “pattern of self-harm, violence towards others and objects.” Handguns and ten semi-automatic rifles were removed by police.
- In Roseville, California, the Roseville Police Department responded to a relative’s call about a man armed with a handgun and threatening suicide inside his home. When the officers could not convince him to come out of the house after several hours, they returned later with a gun violence restraining order and removed his firearms.
- In Osceola County, Florida, a janitor threatened to bring a gun to school, and was reported to police by a teacher at Parkway Middle School. He told the teacher his only regret would be that his targets would “run for their lives before [he] could get to them.” After an order was issued, deputies removed a handgun from the man.
We have seen time and again that Extreme Risk laws can save lives. They help prevent school shootings, mass shootings and firearm suicides. If you have questions about this important type of legislation, please don’t hesitate to reach out.