We need your help NOW to save lives from firearm suicide!

This year Utah legislators once again have the chance to consider implementing extreme risk protective orders (ERPOs), also known as ‘red flag law’, a research-based policy shown to significantly reduce firearm suicide rates in states where they have been in place. Extreme risk protective orders have been in place for over 20 years and have now been adopted in 17 states because they do three important things:

  1. Save lives
  2. Provide a pathway to behavioral health services for people in crisis
  3. Protect Second Amendment rights

ERPOs are shown to reduce firearm suicides by between 7.5% to 13.5% — that’s around one in ten. For every ten orders filed, a life is saved. That’s why the Utah chapters of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and National Alliance for Mental Health have prioritized support for ERPO as an important life-saving measure. The bill also has applications to prevent mass shootings like Parkland and domestic violence homicide/suicides like three recent cases that have racked Utah communities. Today, Utah Domestic Violence Coalition is at Capitol Hill advocating in support of this important policy as a top priority for saving lives.

A bill by Rep. Steve Handy was introduced this year, HB 229 Extreme Risk Protective Order, but the bill sponsor has stated that he can’t find the political will to get it passed.

IT IS NOT TIME TO GIVE UP — BUT RATHER TO TAKE ACTION!

Let your state representative and state senator know that you are among the strong majority of Utahns who support ERPO policy and want to see legislators approve ERPO law to prevent suicides and save lives in Utah

Simply scroll down and click “Start Writing” to ask your state legislators to support a red flag law for Utah.

Ask your state representative and senator to support extreme risk protective orders to save lives in Utah.

For the past two years, legislators have considered – but not passed – an Extreme Risk Protective Order (ERPO) bill, also know as a ‘red flag’ law, to address firearm suicide in Utah. Such laws have been passed in 17 states and have been shown to dramatically reduce suicides.
68% of Utahns support a red flag law for Utah, including Republicans, Democrats and gun owners alike. The most recent version of this bill, HB 229 Extreme Risk Protective Orders, has stalled without a hearing. That doesn’t mean the fight for this important, life-saving policy is over! NOW is the time to contact your state representative and state senator and ask them to continue to pursue extreme risk protective order policy for Utah, regardless of the fate of HB 229 to save lives, provide a pathway to behavioral health services and protect Second Amendment rights!

What would Utah’s red flag law do?

Importantly, this policy includes provisions to ensure that:

  • Firearms will be automatically restored at the end of an ERPO (unless, of course, a respondent is a prohibited person).
  • Only a limited group of people may petition a judge to grant an order – no vindictive neighbors or angry strangers – and false accusations carry a strong penalty (third degree felony).
  • Only a judge can decide to issue an ERPO, and they must base their decision on strict evidentiary standards considering specific and multiple factors of risk.
  • The burden of proof is on the petitioner to present strong evidence that a respondent poses a dangerous risk to themselves or others.
  • ERPOs are temporary! Emergency orders last up to 14 days, after which a firearm may be returned unless evidence proves the respondent is not yet out of crisis. They may be extended for a year.
  • A judge can recommend professional evaluation for behavioral health services in order to help a person in crisis get the treatment they need.
  • The respondent has the right to appeal a judge’s decision as well as to request early termination of an order.
  • Two decades of data from other states show that Extreme Risk Protective Orders (ERPOs) significantly reduce suicide rates AND provide a pathway for substance abuse and mental health treatment for respondents.
  • ERPOs, or red flag bills, could have prevented a significant number of mass shootings, such as the Parkland Shooting in 2018. That’s why Florida passed a red flag bill directly after Parkland, just as other states have done in the aftermath of mass shootings.
  • Means matters, and research shows that lethal means reduction is one of the most important methods of suicide prevention. ERPOs are a legal mechanism for lethal means reduction that respects gun rights.
  • Data shows that over 90% of people who survive a suicide attempt do not go on to die by suicide – even if they attempt suicide by another means. Firearms are by far the most lethal means for suicide. Temporarily removing access to the most lethal means from a person during a time of crisis can save their life and/or the lives of others.
  • ERPOs have strong due process protections and require high evidentiary standards.
  • ERPOs have been proven time and again to be constitutional (consistent with the 2nd, 4th and 14th Amendments) and are modeled after other existing orders already in place for domestic violence and other situations threatening irreparable harm.
  • A full hearing is required for a respondent within 14 days of the issue of an order, at which point a petitioner must present clear and convincing evidence for the order to be extended.
  • ERPOs include a mechanism for quick return of firearms to a respondent after an order expires.
  • Utah’s red flag bill includes safety measures for law enforcement to avoid violent confrontations when carrying out the order.
  • Utah’s red flag bill includes strict penalties for false claims (third degree felony) and the ability for a respondent to appeal the order.
  • 17 states plus the District of Columbia currently have ERPO laws; many other states are currently considering them.
  • 68% of Utahns support ERPO laws; 78% of Americans favor ERPOs nationwide.
  • Are you a gun owner who supports ERPOs? Be sure to mention it!

Who supports ERPOs

How to make sure your letter is successful:

  1. Use a clear and specific subject heading.
  2. Start with a salutation (“Dear …”).
  3. Be CIVIL, PERSONAL and as CONCISE as possible.
  4. Mention that you are a CONSTITUENT and include your full address with zip code.
  5. Sign your name at the end.

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