Just days after the tragic shootings in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio, members of American State Legislators for Gun Violence Prevention (ASLGVP) — a non-partisan coalition of legislators from across the country — joined legislative leaders from Ohio to call for enactment of common sense state laws to stop gun violence. Altogether, nearly 70 legislators from 23 states and the District of Columbia were present.
Ohio House Minority Leader Emilia Strong Sykes and Ohio Senator Sandra Williams — joined by ASLGVP Chair and New York Senator Brian Kavanagh and other members of the national coalition — announced their commitment to legislation to authorize courts to issue “Extreme Risk Protection Orders” and to require background checks on all gun buyers.
Advocates from Giffords, Brady, and Everytown for Gun Safety — national gun violence prevention organizations — expressed support for the announcement, which was held in Nashville, Tennessee, where the legislators were attending the annual meeting of the National Conference of State Legislatures.
Extreme Risk Protection Orders (“ERPO”), also known as a “Red Flag” laws, are court-issued civil orders of protection that prohibit individuals from purchasing or possessing guns if a court finds they have exhibited behaviors that indicate they may be likely to harm themselves or others. In most states that have enacted ERPO, orders may be requested by family members or police officers — who often see warning signs of gun violence but may be powerless to act under other laws before tragedy occurs.
State laws requiring background checks on all gun buyers ensure that individuals who are prohibited from having guns cannot purchase them through unregulated sales at gun shows, online, or in person from unregulated sellers who are not required to perform background checks under federal law. Closing this loophole is essential in making sure that those convicted of certain crimes and other potentially dangerous people do not have access to guns.
“The gun industry and its allies in Washington have long blocked federal laws to stop gun violence, but state lawmakers are taking up the fight for the safety of our communities and all Americans,” said New York Senator Brian Kavanagh, Founder and Chair of American State Legislators for Gun Violence Prevention and the sponsor New York’s ERPO law, enacted earlier this year. “I am honored and humbled to join Leader Strong Sykes and Senator Williams and their colleagues from Ohio to announce their commitment to take the steps necessary to prevent horrific tragedies like the ones we saw last weekend, as well as the day-to-day gun violence that is all too common in our communities.”
“Everyday Ohioans from all political backgrounds agree - we need common sense gun safety reforms," said Ohio House Minority Leader Emilia Strong Sykes (D-Akron). "We cannot wait for the next mass shooting or gun related death to begin addressing this crisis that has devastated far too many families and communities across our state and around the country. We don't need more empty rhetoric, we need to do something. We need thoughtful action and policies to protect our families. Now is the time to finally do something to keep our promise to ensure the safety and security of children and families - because we work for you.”
“Americans have been forced to face so much suffering because of senseless, preventable gun violence. Our federal government should be working to strengthen gun laws, but in the absence of their action, state legislators must get to work – now,” said Ohio Senator Sandra Williams. “I urge my colleagues in Ohio, and across the nation, to implement common sense legislation, like red flag and universal background check laws, to save lives and prevent further tragedies.”
“It’s unacceptable to do nothing and just let mass shootings become part of our way of life,” said Tennessee Senator Jeff Yarbro. After one attempted shoe bombing, we changed the way airports work for everyone, everywhere, permanently. With mass shootings happening both regularly and in every corner of the country, there’s a moral imperative to enact basic, sensible measures to keep people safe”
In March 2018, ASLGVP members from 30 states called for ERPO laws to be enacted in their respective states, in addition to the 5 states that already had such laws on the books. As of today, a total of 17 states and the District of Columbia have enacted ERPO laws, including 12 states that have done so in the past year. A total of 12 states and the District of Columbia have enacted laws requiring background checks on all gun buyers.
States that have enacted ERPO laws include: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, and the District of Columbia.
States that have enacted universal background checks include: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington, and the District of Columbia.