GOAL STATEMENT ON EXTREME RISK PROTECTION ORDER:
ERPO Legislation Very Cruel and Extremely Dangerous
GOAL wants to respond to the myriad inquiries we received from news outlets, law enforcement, GOAL members and the general public about two pieces of legislation being proposed at the State House regarding so-called “Extreme Risk Protection Orders”. It is our opinion that this type of legislation is both very cruel to the individual and his/her civil rights and extremely dangerous to the general public.
It should be noted from the outset that local firearm licensing officials in Massachusetts have extraordinary powers to suspend a License to Carry Firearms and confiscate a persons guns on a moments notice. The Commonwealth also already has a process to deal with people that are having mental health problems that might cause them to be a danger to themselves. It is commonly referred to as Section 12. Local law enforcement can also conduct what is referred to as wellness visits.
Specifically, the two pieces of legislation in question are: H.3081, An Act Establishing Extreme Risk Prevention Orders, filed by Rep. David Linsky (D-Natick) and H.3610, An Act Temporarily Preventing Firearm Access for Extremely Dangerous or Suicidal Individuals, filed by Rep. Marjorie Decker (D-Cambridge).
These bills represent yet another “one size fits none” solution that the general public has sadly grown accustomed to. There are great civil rights and due process concerns surrounding the proposals. The proposed bills would also allow for the very cruel and extremely dangerous treatment of people who may or may not have severe mental health issues. It is extraordinarily cruel for the law to treat a person who is suicidal or depressed in the same manner as a potential mass murderer. Then deprive them of their civil rights and then send them back into society with no help or structured support system – but that is what these bills do.
One of the driving points of these proposals is supposedly to prevent suicides, which is a very complex issue. However, there is nothing in these bills that provides assistance or support to the individual or their family. The proposal only seeks to make their problems public, remove one of their civil rights and then send them home. If part of these proposals is to prevent and address the epidemic of suicides, we need a much more compassionate and comprehensive approach. Certainly we need a system that does not punish those in need that come forward. Such treatment will only further deter people from seeking help.
Another motive of these bills is to hopefully identify a potential mass murderer before they strike. What is strikingly dangerous is that after the government identifies these potential killers among us – these bills instruct they then set them free back into our communities. Seeking to identify potential monsters among us GOAL agrees is a worthy task. However, if we are identifying people who present such an extreme public safety risk, why are we setting them free, and why are we only taking away their ability to legally own or possess guns?
If a court has determined that a person is an “extreme danger to society”, are we ok with them practicing medicine, driving a school bus, flying a plane, renting a UHaul or resuming active duty in the military? The answer should be resoundingly “NO”, yet this legislation does nothing to address the numerous other means a dangerous person could cause harm. If the public is going to buy into this method of identifying dangerous people, then they should demand the bill be expanded to include the removal of all professional licenses or certificates that would allow to present a public safety risk.
GOAL urges all citizens to contact their state legislators and ask them to vehemently oppose these very cruel and dangerous proposals. Ask them to show much more compassion for those in need of counseling and support and to keep dangerous killers off the streets and away from children and families! Harming good people and setting potential killers loose is not an answer, it is a tremendous problem.