FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 28, 2021
Julia Friedmann, West End Strategy Team
CSGV Exec. Director Testifies Before Senate Judiciary Committee on Life-Saving Potential of Extreme Risk Laws
WASHINGTON — As Congress and the Biden administration increase federal attention on gun violence prevention as a public health issue, Josh Horwitz, executive director of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence (CSGV), testified before the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution on Wednesday afternoon. Horwitz discussed how extreme risk laws (also known as “red flag laws”) can be used most effectively.
Extreme risk laws establish a civil process that puts time and space between an at-risk individual and firearms. The laws can be valuable tools in preventing suicides, mass shootings, and interpersonal violence.
“Extreme risk laws are a precise, evidence-based legal tool to help prevent acts of lethal violence before they occur,” said Horwitz during his opening statement. “Although extreme risk laws are a state-level policy, the federal government can play an important role in helping states and localities implement these life-saving laws by funding state implementation efforts.
“Extreme risk laws are based on the risk of individuals, and they’re not used for lots of people across a wide spectrum,” Horwitz continued during witness questioning. “They’re individualized attempts to identify people who are at an elevated risk of violence, and I think that’s why they’re important, that’s why they’re constitutional, and that’s why they’re effective.
“I really believe that we can reach an agreement [on extreme risk laws],” Horwitz concluded. “I think it’s important to save lives — I think we can also protect due process and we can protect constitutional rights.”
Extreme risk protection orders (ERPOs) — which have garnered recent attention due to the lack of implementation that may have contributed to the recent Indianapolis shooting — when used effectively, have the potential to prevent tragedies like firearm suicides and homicides. Horwitz is a leading expert in the use of ERPOs and was responsible for convening public health, law, behavioral health, medicine and criminology experts in 2013 after the horrific Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting to modernize extreme risk protection orders.
CSGV RESOURCES ON ERPO LAWS
- Late last year the Consortium for Risk-Based Firearm Policy, which Horwitz convened, released a report reflecting updated recommendations on best practices to make ERPOs most effective — calling for, among other things, healthcare professionals, family members and others to be eligible for petitioning for the judge-approved orders, not just law enforcement like the Indiana law.
- CSGV’s affiliate group EFSGV last week convened an expert panel on ERPO implementation in the wake of the deadly Indianapolis shooting.
- CSGV released a recent working guide toward more racially equitable extreme risk laws.
- EFSGV is partnering with the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health on best practices for implementing ERPO laws.
- CSGV tracks the 19 states and the District of Columbia that currently have extreme risk laws in effect.
- CSGV celebrated President Biden’s executive order requiring that the Justice Department create a model ERPO law for states to implement.
About the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence
Founded in 1974, the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence is the nation’s oldest gun violence prevention organization. We believe gun violence should be rare and abnormal. CSGV develops and advocates for evidence-based solutions to reduce gun injury and death in all its forms.