There’s been a lot of talk about gun violence restraining orders (GVROs), also known as extreme risk protection orders (ERPOs), at the state level since the mass school shooting in Parkland, Florida. Currently three states – California, Washington and Oregon – have some form of GVROs, and it looks like Florida is about to become the fourth.
Now, two senators are bringing the discussion to Capitol Hill.
This week, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) introduced the Federal Extreme Risk Protection Act, which, like GVRO laws at the state level, seeks to temporarily disarm those who are determined to be a threat to themselves or others.
“If this becomes law, every state will have an opportunity to go to a federal judge or magistrate and inform them that this person is about to blow,” Graham said.
GVROs have been criticized in the past for taking away a person’s Second Amendment rights without proper due process. However, Graham and Blumenthal say that will not be the case with their bill.
Under the Federal Extreme Risk Protection Act, law enforcement or family members would be able to file a petition with a federal court requesting a GVRO against an individual who is believed to be a threat to themselves or others. Once the order is issued, that individual would be temporarily prohibited from purchasing or possessing a firearm for a set amount of time. It is not clear if this would extend to ammunition, as some state laws do.
To protect due process, the person would be given a hearing where he/she could challenge the order within 72 hours of it being issued. If the order is upheld, it can last up to 180 days. Once that time is up, the order can be extended or renewed if new evidence is presented which proves the individual is still a threat.
“Our bill is narrowly tailored to deal with people who demonstrate solid, factual evidence that they are in fact dangerous,” added Blumenthal. “This is not about losing your gun rights…This is about intervening at a time when it matters.”
The senators did not specify whether the individual in question would be given a new hearing to protest an extension or renewal.
But they did explain why they felt it was important to introduce GVROs at the federal level.
“Guns and shooters cross borders,” Blumenthal said. “There’s nothing to prevent them from going from one state to another. That’s why a federal solution is important.”
While Graham has reportedly spoken to the Vice President about his and Sen. Blumenthal’s bill, Pence did not specify whether or not the White House would back the legislation.