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tv   Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing on Gun Legislation  CSPAN  April 1, 2019 3:36am-5:52am EDT

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c-span's big idea is more today.t than ever it's nonpartisan coverage of washington is funded as a public service by your cable or satellite provider. on television or online, c-span is your unfiltered view of government is a you can make up your own mind. on tuesday, law enforcement and mental health officials testified before the senate judiciary committee about proposed legislation that would allow federal courts to either temporarily or permanently bars certain people from buying or owning guns. states that already have such laws include california, florida, washington, vermont and connecticut. this is two hours and 15 minutes.
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>> we are trying to identify people in our communities that are exhibiting pretty extreme behavior in terms of mental health issues where they become a danger to themselves and others and allow law enforcement and sometimes family members to go to a court to say, this person needs some help and we need to stop violence before it occurs. there will be a robust due process component. we will have witnesses. 15 states that have a
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form of this and one of the reasons we are having this hearing is because of senator blumenthal. no one has been more passionate about trying to find a solution. it is not sometimes the solution he would prefer but it is doing something rather than doing nothing. and senator durbin has been that way about immigration for years. i believe that senator blumenthal, that after today, we can define the problem. a lot of people may be worried if the government is going to come and take your guns? and the answer is no. but there will be a process for law enforcement and for family a court topetition say that somebody in your neighborhood or somebody down the street or across town is about to blow. fan of the second amendment. owned firearms and i tried to
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be responsible for my ownership but at the same time, every right has limits. i want to start a discussion about what is working at the state level. connecticut has a law. one of the benefits is reduced suicide rates. suicidescommon form of is using a gun. vice president pence is very familiar with the red flag law. there are about to pass one in arizona. florida is the most recent example of a state seizing the moment. we have a family member here today who we will identify later -- the perpetrator is mr. cruz. he did everything but take an ad out in the people, i am going to shoot somebody. police went to his house on multiple occasions. the fbi tip line got a call about him saying this guy is dangerous and social media
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postings that showed a very disturbed person and he acted on it. law, a in turn created a red flag law, florida specific, to give law enforcement community a chance next time to intervene before it is too late. and the evidence about how these laws work is pretty impressive. we have some information here about florida specifically. in florida, broward county, 100 eight people were impacted including 28 cases where the person was accused of domestic violence, 45 from people suffering from mental illness and 34 people were committing suicide. there are multiple millions of people in florida and several hundred have been affected by this law and that is true pretty much all over the country. when you look at the people that have been affected, it is
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probably the best thing that could've happened to them and may have saved their lives and idr say it may have saved other people's lives. we are trying to balance the right to own a gun under the second amendment with mental health issues. that are far too prevalent in society and we do not have enough capability to deal with the problem and there are times like in the parkland case where the law enforcement community had these tools, they could intervene and do something about that what wee is will do a. in washington is i think, passing a federal law is beyond what the market will bear but create an incentive at the federal level for states that want to go down this road taking sure the laws are meaningful and due process in the court situation where we can try to make a nod to the states where
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this is working in some states. come up with an idea that is theue to your state, and federal government will incentivize you and i think that is the best way at least initially to solve this problem. blumenthal has been very helpful in putting this panel together. we live in contentious times. for theit will be good country. over to senator feinstein. senator feinstein: thank you, mr. chairman. this is excellent. the topic is extreme -- extreme risk laws sometimes referred to as red flag laws. i strongly believe these are important tools that can empower family members and law enforcement to ask courts to
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keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people. they should at least include requiring universal background checks. closing the charleston loophole which would give law enforcement more time to complete checks and hopefully banning assault weapons. to be clear, extreme risk laws are a vital part of that effort. as of today, as the chairman said, we have 14 states and the district of columbia passing extreme risk loss. the states are connecticut, indiana, my state, california, washington, oregon, so you have the pacific coast. florida, vermont, maryland, delaware, rhode island, new jersey, massachusetts, illinois, new york. the extreme risk protection order of 2019 which would create new grants to incentivize states taking
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similar measures to prevent gun violence. the national discussion about extreme risk laws or red flag afteras called, escalated 17 people lost their lives in parkland, florida. it was one of the deadliest school shootings in our history. we know the shooter had troubling signs before the shooting. did not go unnoticed. in september, 2015 -- 2017, the fbi was alerted to a comment the young man made on an online video that said -- i am going to be a professional school shooter. that is a direct quote. in january, 2018, the fbi got another tip about this young ownership, desire to kill people, a roddick behavior -- erratic behavior, and
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disturbing social media posts as well as the potential of him conducting a school shooting. .hen, nothing was done a month later come he walked into marjory stoneman douglas high school armed with an ar-15, took 17 lives and wounded 17 others. while law enforcement could've done more, this young man's family could also have helped if they had been legally able to do so. and that is one reason why florida acted quickly after parkland to pass an extreme risk law. more should be done to address the daily toll gun violence is taking on our country and i hope my colleagues here today will join me in doing more after today. since 1994, background checks have stopped more than three point 5 million felons, domestic
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abusers, and other prohibited people from purchasing firearms. sales aref all gun being carried out without a background check. 90% of americans support universal background checks. that is for everybody. so, why are we not doing the same? compared with the ten-year period before the 1994 federal assault weapons ban, the number of gun massacres between 1994 and 2004 when the assault weapons bill was in law, the number of massacres fell by 37%. the number of people dying from gun massacres fell by 43%. and the fact is that the assault weapons ban worked, extreme risk laws also work. particularas had
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success with california's law. and a little more than a law, that office has obtained 106 orders and confiscated 318 guns including 33 assault weapons. i would like to enter into the record, mr. chairman, a letter from the san diego city attorney. here is an excerpt from that -- "our office has found california's red flag law to be a powerful tool for protecting residents and police officers from senseless gun violence. gun rights advocates closely monitor our work. bring to our to attention a case where they believe the law was improperly granted." the sandy hook shooting was a moment when
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congress would step up and take action and i so hoped we would. despite our best efforts, gun safety legislation was not in not did. enacted. -- was not similarly, we saw no action after parkland, las vegas, or other massacres our country has had to cope with. unlike the united states, other countries did not miss the opportunity to do something. and australia, in 1996, 35 people were killed when a gunman opened fire with two semiautomatic assault rifle. shortly thereafter, australia banned all assault rifle and put in place a licensing system. after 50 people lost their lives in new zealand, that country has also moved to ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. hopeful, hope carries a
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return late, that congress will once again find the courage to do what is right. we cannot forget what happened in parkland. thousand oaks. i'll -- i love vista. to and countless other cities across the country were gun violence has taken so many lives. we see and continue to see the cost of inaction. not a big step but a small step, a sensible in the right direction and i hope my republican colleagues will join me and support the extreme risk protection order act. thank you, mr. chairman. >> march, 2018, the trump administration called on every extreme riskt protection orders and they have tried to provide technical assistance to all those that
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stepped forward. something noteworthy about the president. includes the senior policy advisor for the alliance of mental health illness. .s. amanda wilcox her family suffered violent crime episode and i am sorry terribler daughter's situation. illnessffering mental came into the location where her daughter was working. -- there of is from wyatt, fromimberly king county in seattle, washington and mr. david koppel is the research director at the independence institute to talk about due process issues involved. would you lead us off? >> good morning.
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ranking member, feinstein and distinguished members of the judiciary committee, thank you or this opportunity to testify. for senior policy advisor the national alliance on mental illness. grassrootss largest mental health organization. in my testimony, i want to talk briefly about three things. first, risk or for violence including gun violence that is been identified through research. second, i want to talk about what we regard as the biggest concern, the use of firearms in suicides. ourd, i want to discuss position on extreme risk protection orders including recommendations for how they can be used effectively without violating individual rights. briefly, to talk about risk factors from violence. identified through research. the biggest risk faster identified is a past history of
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violence including domestic violence. a history of physical or sexual abuse particularly in childhood. abuse of alcohol or drugs is a pastficant risk to as our convictions for violent misdemeanors. and illusions of paranoia sometimes characteristic of psychosis. first experiencing episodes of psychosis may particularly be at risk. it should be noted that most people experiencing the symptoms will not act violently towards others and particularly not if they receive treatment. the biggest concern and bigger concern frankly is suicide. in 2016, nearly 45,000 people died by suicide. suicide rates are more than two times higher than homicide rates. suicides with the second leading cause of death for young people the between the ages of 10 and 24 and the department of veterans affairs has reported 20 veterans take their lives each day. suicides account port 60% of gun
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deaths in this country and nearly half of all suicide deaths are with firearms. 90% of suicide attempts with guns result in death. the centers for disease control recently estimated that about half of all suicide deaths involve people diagnosed with a mental illness particularly depression and they speculated that the actual rate maybe significantly higher because many others have had mental health conditions but have not -- may have had mental health conditions budd of not seen a professor -- professional and been diagnosed. i won to talk about our position on extreme risk protection orders. we feel that when properly utilized they can we potentially life-saving. to maximize their positive impact and prevent misuse, we offer the following six recommendations. first, determinations of risk should be based on individual at july -- individualized
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assumptions. for this reason, it is either necessary or appropriate to specifically listed the mental illness in state or federal laws. it is about identifying people who pose risks for whatever reason. second, as with any deprivation of personal liberty, it is important to ensure that partitions areo oh -- given due process. third, law enforcement officers assigned responsibility for removing firearms from individuals under these orders should receive training on crisis de-escalation and intervention. the removal of firearms from individuals reluctant to give up their guns can be difficult and
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even potentially volatile and protecting the safety of officers and individuals is of paramount importance. is crisis intervention team a proven best practice for training first responders and for linking people that require mental health care with needed services and support. fourth, terms like red flag law should be a -- should be avoided because it suggests that mental health issues are red flags. this may inadvertently drop you blow away from seeking help when they need it which is why we prefer extreme risk protection order. fifth, authority to initiate 's for stater erpo laws should be expanded to include professionals. this toit law-enforcement officers and family members.
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we recognize that these professionals are best positioned to recognize crises situations. and finally, resources should be available to educate key stakeholders about these orders and had to use them. this would include funding for training and technical assistance for law enforcement, lawyers, judges, and family members. i have a more extensive written statement which will be part of the written record. thank you for this opportunity to testify. i look forward to your questions. >> ms. wilcox. ms. wilcox: good morning. graham, ranking member feinstein, and distinguished members of this committee, thank you for the opportunity to come before you today to share my story. name is amanda wilcox and i am the legislative chair of brady california, a network of grassroots organizations
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dedicated to ending gun violence. i have been a volunteer advocate for the past 18 years. in january 2001, my daughter lark was home on winter break from college and filling in as a receptionist at our county behavioral health clinic when a client came in and opened fire. he shot laura four times at point-blank range killing her instantly. when his rampage at the clinic ended,earby restaurant three people lay dead, three were severely injured, a community was left shaken, and the world was diminished by the loss of an incredible young woman. laura, bright and beautiful at extraordinary capability, kindness, and spirit. she was an outstanding student graduating as high school valedictorian and was, at the
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time of her death, a sophomore at haverford college. already living a life full of service. she wanted to make a positive difference in the world. she had unlimited possibilities and the brightest of futures. after laura's sudden-death, my life and that of my husband, was turned upside down. we were in a state of extreme shock, emotional pain, and deep grief. later, as we struggled to comprehend the circumstances of our daughters death, we learned the shooter's family, girlfriend, and keys worker were all worried about him. his father and grandfather had died i suicide with a firearm. they knew he had guns. the warning signs were there. but because he had never committed a crime, or been subject to an involuntary mental
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-- there with carrie was no legal tool for removing his firearms. it was clear to us then and still is today that there needs removingay for firearms from a person it was too late for laura, but my husband and i wanted to save others by working to keep guns out of dangerous hands. since laura's death, there have been many high-profile shootings, in tucson, aurora, isla vista, parkland. and in so many cases, there were warning signs and people were concerned. every day, there are shootings many of us never heard about. but in my small, rural county, four people i know have died by suicide with a gun, and in my own little town, an elderly man with dementia shot and killed his caregiver.
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in so many shootings, whether suicide, domestic violence, mass or school shootings, a loved one or member of law enforcement typically sees a sign before the tragedy occurs. the extreme risk protective order law allows family members and law enforcement to petition the court for temporary firearm prohibition when a person is at risk of injury to self or others by having a firearm. the law enables those who know the person in crisis the best, family members or law enforcement, to intervene and save lives. my central role in the enactment and ongoing implementation of california's extreme risk law has been very meaningful to me. had the law been in place in 2001, laura might be alive today. based on our experience in california, i know that extreme risk laws need to be accompanied
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by a thoughtful and robust implementation program that incorporates all stakeholders, including law enforcement officers, court clerks, and judges, social service providers, medical professionals, and others who may be working with a potential family petitioner. a process for implementing the law in each jurisdiction needs to be developed. this takes resources. as a mother whose daughter needlessly lost her life, i ask you to support incentives and funding for states to enact and implement extreme risk laws. we can save lives every day, by making extreme risk orders available throughout the country. i look forward to working with all of you on this committee to find a path forward. in 2001, laura was killed in an instant by four bullets. in the aftermath, i was overwhelmed by the permanence of her death.
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laura was gone forever. that is why extreme risk laws resonate with me. one can always give a gun back. i cannot get her life back. thank you. give a gun back. i cannot get her life back. thank you. chair graham: thank you very much, ms. wilcox. sheriff bradshaw. sheriff bradshaw: thank you. my name is sheriff bradshaw. i was a police chief in on palm beach county for many
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years, and i appreciate the opportunity to come here to view about what i believe is the most important issue in the united states is the high level of violence that is taking human lives. this issue has been kicked around a lot. there is a lot of diverse opinions about it, but the violence is really, either domestic violence, street violence, or what we see with the mass casualties, targeted violence. recent studies indicate domestic violence and street violence incidents are more often the result of an impulsive or a reactive situation. on the other hand, the active shooter, mass casualty incidents appear to be predatory and plan, where the violence is premeditated. a perpetrator plan and conducts the attacks. another aspect of the perpetrator at some point in time, they displayed pre-attack behaviors and shared information that gave clues about their impending violence. it is incumbent upon law enforcement to connect with the community and provide avenues for them to communicate information about their concerns to their respective law enforcement agencies, so that
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information can and must be enacted upon. finally, there is a relationship between mental illness and targeted violence. it is complex and no means by absolute. to be very clear, without a doubt, all mentally ill people are not violent and do not commit violent acts. but the research has shown that those involved with violent act do have and have demonstrated intentions that are indications of their behaviors, because behaviors are clues to a person's intent. ions. and our foundation of any mental health diagnosis. law enforcement must assess every case and the impact that mental illness may have on the person involved and taking the appropriate actions. law enforcement must educate and must train its personnel in mental health issues and employ mental health professionals to assessmentthe risk
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teams. once the person or persons have been identified as a potential or personal risk and maybe in possession of firearms or likely to purchase one, then the use of the risk protection order appears to be a valuable tool, and i stress that phrase, tool. it is not the end all. our goal here is to identify people who have the potentiality to perform these violent acts, because it could be a car, a rock, a knife, it could be a pressure cooker. so sometimes it is not the instrument, it is the hands of who you put this instrument in. my testimony today will be discussing how the sheriff's office has developed a strategy, a special unit called the behavioral science division to address these issues. we cannot arrest our way out of
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this situation. prevention and intervention are key factors in solving this issue. having such a unit as the behavioral science division, with the capabilities of using that risk protection order, and the mental health professionals attached to it, will reach these goals. i have submitted a larger statement that details our program, the innovations, and our success stories. it is about prevention. it is not about the gun taking. we want to identify these individuals, get them help before they commit these violent acts. i look forward to your questions and the discussion going forward. thank you. chair graham: ms. wyatt. ms. wyatt: good morning, chairman graham, ranking member feinstein, and distinguished members of the committee. senate judiciary committee. thank you for the opportunity to testify and for your leadership
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on this critical, lifesaving tool, extreme risk protection orders. my name is kim wyatt. i am a senior deputy prosecuting attorney from king county, washington. for the past year, i have served as a firearms prosecutor and the regional domestic violence firearms enforcement unit, as the extreme risk protection order prosecutor. my responsibilities are to advise and assist law enforcement and family members on all aspects of extreme risk protection orders, from the petitions to court proceedings. and i can tell you this has been some of the most important and rewarding work of my career. you see, as a prosecutor, rarely, if ever, do we get the opportunity to intervene prior to the gun violence occurring. instead, we react. we receive that incident report after the crime has occurred. my colleagues and i know we have few brief windows of opportunity to intervene to prevent harm.
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future harm. this life-saving legislation creates one of those opportunities and allows much-needed intervention to prevent suicide, homicide, and other acts of violence, while at the same time protecting people's constitutional rights with due process built in. red flag laws or extreme risk protection orders allow family members and law enforcement who have seen those warning signs to come before a court and petition for a temporary order that prevents the at-risk individual from purchasing and possessing firearms. in 2016, washington state voters overwhelmingly approved a citizens initiative for our extreme risk protection order, passing by 69% of the vote. to understand what we have been doing in our state and the cases that i see every day, i need to tell you about some of the stories. these are stories of people at
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who are at their lowest and most vulnerable points of life. the first story i want to share with you is about a case that we believe prevented a suicide. a woman filed an extreme risk protection order against her boyfriend, as he had recently tried to commit suicide and wanted to purchase a firearm. at the extreme risk protection order hearing, they came in together. in fact, they were holding hands. the boyfriend, or respondent, had no objection to the extreme risk protection order and in fact expressed gratitude that somebody he cared enough to make sure he did not have access to a gun while he was in a crisis. we have also dealt with cases involving crimes of violence. recently at the end of january 2019, police were contacted by a doctor who stated they had a client who was making reference to a hit list. specifically, the client or patient wanted a concealed pistol license to purchase a firearm. in reference to the hit list, he
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said doing them harm was his duty. law enforcement were able to intervene, obtain an extreme risk protection order, and during their investigation, they verified that the day the respondent made the comments to the therapist about the hit list was in fact the very same day that he went down to our local sheriffs department and applied for a concealed pistol license. law enforcement were able to retrieve the concealed pistol license and file an extreme risk protection order to prevent this individual from being legally able to purchase a firearm in our state. we have a responsibility to protect children at school. the activity at marjory stoneman douglas high school and others. we have an ongoing responsibility to protect our children while they are attending school. in may 2018, law enforcement in king county received a report
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about a university student who was making threats to kill other students. he stated, "i could just kill you all. it would be easy to kill everybody." and then he went on to describe what firearms he would use to kill them. law-enforcement intervene, produce an extreme risk protection order, and then procure the firearm and made sure he did not have access. although all these cases described above are different, there is a common thread, all are about somebody exhibiting a crisis or exhibiting violent behavior and having access to firearms. we have learned over the past year is that the time to act to prevent future tragedies is upon us. what we see in washington state is that this law is working to save lives. every state in thid nation deserves to have this tool, the ability to react quickly to threats of suicide or homicide and prevent irreversible violence. this is what the public expects and most importantly, deserves. thank you. chair graham: mr. kopel.
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mrpe i support laws to remove firearms from people who propose an extreme risk, not based on some lesser standard as those bills with an extreme risk title propose to do. in 2018, i served on the uniform study committee on the topic. while study members had very diverse expertise and viewpoints, we were nearly unanimous that the uniform law commission should move forward to draft a fair and thoughtful national model. unfortunately, that uniform law commission's efforts were shut down by lobbying from gun control organizations. as they frankly stated, they did not want any competitor to their own model, which, in my view, is dangerous and unbalanced.
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federal funding should reward states only for best practices which protect civil rights and public safety. the first problem to address is the frequent misuse of confiscation orders. any procedure that allows a judge to hear only one side of a case necessarily will produce a very high error rate. data from the two states with the oldest confiscation laws so illustrates. in connecticut, confiscation orders may be issued ex parte. later, the respondent will have the opportunity to tell his or her side of the story. in court. in connecticut, once the respondent does have a chance to tell his or her side of the story, 32% of confiscation are overturned. indiana requires petitions be filed by law enforcement, but some states allow petitions to be filed by a wide variety of people, ex-girlfriend's, ex-boyfriends, distant cousins , who may not have had contact with the individual for years.
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these states have no corroboration for any evidence. indeed, colorado's house bill number 77, which will later become law, legislators removed a requirement that evidence be corroborated. unreliable procedures for ex parte orders ensure a large amount of orders will be issued against peaceful and innocent individuals. the problem is aggravated by mandates in some states for automatic, no notice, surprise confiscation. perpetrated.e one person, a 61-year-old black man, has already been killed by that system. last november, a month after maryland's new confiscation law went into effect, police showed up at mr. wilson's house at 5:17 a.m., announcing they
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had come to take his guns. they talked for a while, they argued, and then police shot him to death. the victim's niece said her late uncle liked to speak his mind but wouldn't hurt anybody. "i am just dumbfounded right now," she continued, "they didn't need to do what they did." in maryland, a respondent never receives notice about anything until the police show up to confiscate their firearms. this creates an inherently volatile situation for law enforcement and the public. the safer approach is to authorize no notice or no not confiscation only when a court has made factual findings about why such an approach is needed. given the dangers imposed by
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autopilot confiscation, it's no wonder sheriffs around the country refused to put their deputies in harms way to enforce a confiscation order that has a high possibility of being wrong and that can easily be obtained by a spurned former dating partner or a distant relative. as detailed in my written testimony, government attorneys sometimes discourage people from having counsel at these hearings, even at their own expense. a former prosecutor bragged at how he was talk people out of representation. colorado has taken steps to prevent such abuse by making court-appointed counsel available to all respondents. but a lawyer can't do much if he she is prevented from cross-examining witnesses. some states eradicate the right of cross-examination. the accuser and witnesses supporting the accuser need never testify in court, where they could be subject to cross-examination and where the judge could observe their demeanor and make a judgment about credibility. instead, those persons can submit an affidavit. in some states, the petitioner will never be seen by the judge or opposing counsel. they can make a telephone call at an ex parte hearing and then immunize themselves at a later hearing from cross-examination by simply filing an affidavit. states that thwart cross-examination promote
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unnecessary no-notice, no-knock raids and leave innocent victims without a civil remedy for false or malicious petitions and should not be rewarded by federal funding. federal funding should support best practices and not the worst. thank you. chair graham: thank you all. it gives us a lot to think about. cher bradshaw, if the law that -- sheriff bradshaw, if the law that exists in florida existed before the parkland shooting, do you think it would have mattered? sheriff bradshaw: yes. although it didn't happen in palm beach county, we actually dealt with the brother of nikolas cruz the next day. he had made some statements, made some gestures that he was going to go back down there and finish what the brother had started. the deputies responded to that
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location, contacted him, my behavioral sciences unit went there, spoke with him, determined that he was a danger to himself or the public, and took him to a mental health facility to watch him for 72 hours, which took him out of the system, off the street. we spoke with the parents there, asking if there was any firearms, they said no. did he have access to some? no, he did not. that is how the system should work. it is my believe that, in broward, you had three or four different agencies that knew this individual was a problem, knew that he had issues that he was dealing with, and again i go back to the fact that just because somebody is mentally ill, doesn't mean they are violent, but these people demonstrate mental illness issues. he had those issues. he had bullying issues from his brother. he had self-esteem issues. he had other issues that were playing themselves out, but he kept getting recycled into the system. if they would have had the type
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of unit that i have developed, where you have a deputy sheriff and the mental health professional as a team, and they are able to evaluate this person and get them to the place that they need to have help, then nikolas cruz would have been taken out of that system and not been available to do what he did. chair graham: before the current law was passed, was there any avenue for law enforcement to act? sheriff bradshaw: only if we had an arrest. right? it's easy when you make an arrest, you seize the property. chair graham: but without an arrest, the answer is no. sheriff bradshaw: no. and that's why they kept cycling this kid back through the system. chair graham: ok. ms. wilcox, do you think it would have mattered in your daughter's case if a law existed at the time? ms. wilcox: i believe the law could have saved her life. those around scott thorpe, the man who killed my daughter, were
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very concerned about him. he actually had been evaluated for what we call a 5150 hold in california, the involuntary, 72-hour mental health hold. and he was able to hold it together and not meet the criteria for the mental health hold. but this would have empowered his family members to take action to remove the firearms. chair graham: given the tools. ms. wyatt, how money people are in the state of washington? ms. wyatt: i might get in trouble for this one. can you hear me? ok. i believe, i'm not quite sure, i believe it is either 6 million or 7 million people. in king county, where i am from, there is about 2.2 million and it has been growing. chair graham: how many people have been affected by this? ms. wyatt: by the extreme risk protection order? i don't know the numbers statewide, because we don't -- chair graham: in your county.
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ms. wilcox: in my county, my unit or myself, we worked on -- in 2018, we worked on 70 extreme risk protection orders. the vast majority were initiated by law enforcement. chair graham: mr. kopel, what state do you think has it most rights? mr. kopel: i think vermont sets a good model in terms of the ex parte proceeding. and froin vermont -- chair graham: i want to take that one, but that is good. [laughter] mr. kopel: in vermont, ex parte confiscation can only be order if the judge finds an extreme and imminent risk. and vermont also -- confiscation can be issued later after a due process hearing. chair graham: do most of these have a clear and convincing evidence standard for final disposition? mr. kopel: for final disposition, that's correct. but one problem is that the ex parte hearings can be held with such low standards. chair graham: i got you. mr. honberg, when it comes to helping people like sheriff bradshaw, if we passed
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any legislation incentivizing states to create a protective order system, how much is the mental health professional part of it? how should we focus our attention there? sheriff bradshaw: senator graham, there is no question that our mental health resources are inadequate pretty much across the country, but i agree that if in fact the removal of a firearm is related to a mental illness, that we need to be thinking about how we can link people with treatment. chair graham: it sounds like the bradshaw concept makes sense. we just need the resources to make it happen. mr. honberg: i agree. with the caveat that not all these cases involve mental illness. chair graham: senator feinstein. mr. chairman, it is hard to know what to say.
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your strength, your grace, the cogency of your comments, my heart goes out to you. and thank you so much for fighting the fight. i deeply believe one day people in this country are going to see the light and do something about guns. i hope i am alive to see it, but thank you so much. family and law enforcement were aware that the shooter in parkland, florida showed warning signs, yet no one could legally do anything about it. and shortly thereafter, florida passed extreme risk legislation. and our new colleague, senator scott, signed it into law. simply put, there really is no question that school shooters can show warning signs that could give law enforcement and family members a chance to stop the next tragedy. sheriff, do you agree and do you support this kind of legislation? sheriff bradshaw: absolutely.
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cap i could go back and talk about the success stories we have had. we have only had to do 16 risk protection orders. lots of times the cooperation with the family is excellent, and they will turn over the firearms, because they wanted to get rid of them anyhow. i don't want to go back and beat this horse to death, but i cannot begin to tell you, if you are going to stop the threat, and the risk assessment teams are going to work, it is imperative that you just don't rely on law enforcement. my law enforcement officers on the team, the deputies either have a masters or phd in psychology or social services, but we bring in a clinician from the community. i hire them and i put them together with that team, so when i send them there, lots of times they have either dealt with those people, and they are bringing expertise above and beyond the deputy. we can teach the deputy the cit, but that is not the end all, it
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not the only thing they need. the protection order is not the end all, it is just another tool in the toolbox to use to make sure that once we identify this person that has this propensity to do what they have indicated they are going to do, which this kid in parkland did several times, and he should have been taken to a facility to get the help that he needed, but again, they kept recycling him through the system, because, at certain times, there is not a crime that has been committed, but with the right assessment team, you can take him out of that system, get him where he needs to be, remove the firearms he had access to, and now you have resolved that problem. sen. feinstein: does anybody disagree with what the sheriff has just said? i thank you for that. coming from somebody who is a professional, and it is such a clear and definitive statement, and i don't think anybody in this room challenges that it is also a correct statement.
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thank you. i'm going to yield, mr. chairman. kopel, these: mr. laws we are talking about gives a judge the opportunity to take a gun away from people who are a threat to themselves or other people, but it also comes up against the second amendment right, the right of people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed. so would you agree that the appropriate level of judicial scrutiny for the second amendment is strict scrutiny? mr. kopel: it depends on the law, but this case, which deprives people of having a firearm in her home, yes, this is strict scrutiny. sen. grassley: would you agree it would be inappropriate to
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deprive u.s. citizens of their constitutional rights, even temporarily, without due process? mr. kopel: yes, because the period when somebody is disarmed is the period when they are vulnerable, and without due process legislation, these laws can be abused by stockers stalkers and other domestic abusers who want to temporarily disarm their intended victims. sen. grassley: isn't it possible, mr. kopel, that some of the red-flag laws that have already been passed by state legislatures could be held to be unconstitutional because they don't have enough due process protections in place? mr. kopel: certainly. that would depend on state laws, but for example, some states say the right of cross-examination in all cases, not just criminal cases, is an essential part of civil rights and due process and common law. sen. grassley: this would be your opportunity to give some suggestions. what due process ue process protections would you recommend for red flag laws?
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mr. kopel: in addition to the strict controls on ex parte proceedings, only having those when there is a necessity, not making them a matter of default, providing counsel for all the accused, or the respondents, and i think having a robust civil remedy for people who are falsely accused. we know from indiana and connecticut that about 30% of these are wrongly issued. some of those may be a matter of good faith mistakes, but other cases, it could be abuse in family disputes or romantic breakups in other situations. and is there the technical possibility of a perjury prosecution. but those are very rare. almost throughout the country. even more so in civil cases. so i would say the victim of a false or malicious petition should have the right to a civil remedy to recover attorneys' fees and damages.
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and in addition, the -- whatever restrictions states have on their no-knock raids -- such as in colorado, require the -- would require the district attorney to get a warrant from the court before the no-knock. those should apply to these kinds of confiscations, as well. and unfortunately, the colorado bill doesn't include our standard protections against no-knocks. sen. grassley: ok. various state laws and bills that are in congress have varying standards that include substantial likelihood, probable cause, preponderance of evidence , and clear and convincing evidence. what is the appropriate standard that you would like to see in red flag laws if congress were to legislate? mr. kopel: the standard of proof both at the final hearing and at the -- if there is an ex parte hearing, where there is no
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opposition, so it should be fairly easy to win that one, should be clear and convincing evidence. and i think if we're going to have truth in legislation, when a bill says it's in -- about extreme risks, then the standard should be a finding of an extreme risk. not a finding of some lower level of risk, or, as in some legislation, merely finding a danger. well, you know, anti-gun advocates would probably say that every citizen who has a gun poses a danger. so that's much too low a standard. if we have clear and convincing finding of extreme risk, i think would be upheld by the courts as compliant with district of columbia v. heller. sen. grassley: my last question would have to be ms. wyatt. you mentioned in your testimony that you are a prosecutor in extreme risk protection orders. would you agree that laws affecting the second amendment rights should be reviewed under strict scrutiny? ms. wyatt: well, you know --
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sen. grassley: and then let me follow up with this, and then this will be the last one. would you agree that the appropriate evidentiary standard for these orders is clear and convincing evidence? ms. wyatt: so to your first question -- >> no, no, no. that one. ms. wyatt: [laughs] sorry. to your first question regarding strict scrutiny, you know, i don't have concerns about our particular statute, because due process is built in at each phase. and i can help explain that, if that's helpful to the committee. specifically that anything that we do with law enforcement or a family member that's coming to petition is coming before the court. so there's nothing that's being done on their own accord. it all goes before a judicial officer. they are filing out a petition that is sworn under penalty of perjury. then they are also going into court and attesting to those facts, once again being examined at the ex parte phase as well. so i don't have concerns about that particular prong in our statute. to your second question about the clear and convincing, i can
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just give you the perspective of our state. we have a 30-year protection order history in our state. all of our orders are civil orders, including our extreme risk protection order, sexual assault, domestic violence, stalking orders, are all done initially by a preponderance, and that's the perspective i offer, because that's what's worked in our state. chair graham: senator durbin. mr. kopel, have you ever met congresswoman gabby giffords? mr. kopel: i have not. would you turn on your microphone? mr. kopel: i have not. i sat next to her husband -- i'm sorry. no, senator. but i did sit next to and meet her husband, mark giffords, when he and i testified before this committee a couple years ago. sen. durbin: it's interesting.
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you didn't mention her name in your oral testimony, but in the written testimony submitted to the committee, you've mentioned her 18 times. mr. kopel: the giffords organization, yes. sen. durbin: and the point i want to make is, many of us sitting at this table have town meetings. she had a town meeting on january the 8th, 2011. a gunman came into that meeting and killed six people. , including a federal judge and a 9-year-old bystander girl. did damage to her, which she still struggles with to this day. and this gunman, whose background has been described, is -- let me just read it to you, if i might. i'm not going to mention his name, because he does not deserve it. acquaintances say his personality had changed markedly in the years prior to the shooting, a period during which he was abusing alcohol and drugs. he had been suspended from a local community college because of bizarre behavior and disruptions in classes in the library. after his arrest, two medical evaluations diagnosed him with paranoid schizophrenia and ruled him incompetent to stand trial. the point i would like to make to you is congresswoman giffords is one of our colleagues. she was doing what we do every day. she went to a town meeting, just as ms. wilcox's daughter went to work. her life is forever changed and
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six people lost their lives. i believe that we ought to err on the side of protecting innocent people. i hope you believe in the same thing. i'm glad you didn't mention her name in your oral testimony, but i have great admiration for her and her husband and the battle they have fought ever since so that innocent people, like her, just going about their daily lives don't become victims of someone who is clearly in a position where they should never own a firearm. i also want to say a word about your comments on domestic violence abusers. you have some pretty strongly stated views here about abusers abusing this system. and yet when it comes to the national coalition against domestic violence, they support these laws, which are a vital tool to protect people experiencing crises that make it temporarily unsafe for them to possess firearms. these are the experts on the subject. they don't buy your point of view. mr. kopel: well, i support these laws, too, senator. that's why i'm here testifying. and i would just remind you that with the -- i'm glad you didn't
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mention the name of the arizona criminal. as i detailed in an article in the howard law journal, there was already all the procedures in place under arizona state law to have that person confined for mental health evaluation. the pima county community college where he was attending dropped the ball. they expelled him because he was known to be dangerous to them, and if they had simply taken one more step and notified a local sheriff's office or someone like that, he could have been taken care of under existing laws. sen. durbin: mr. kopel, let me tell you, existing laws did not save the lives of six people killed by this man. what we are talking about is a step forward to protect innocent people like laura wilcox and others, beyond the existing law. , which by its definition may provide protection in reality did not. and what we're trying to do is come to a safer conclusion. sheriff bradshaw, one of the things that i worry about is sending law enforcement agents to a household where we know that someone has been ruled
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dangerous or is ineligible to own a firearm and asking them to come back with that firearm. that is a pretty dangerous assignment, is it not? sheriff bradshaw: it is. and i would like to go back to what you are talking about. and i cannot stress enough the importance of having these risk assessment prevention teams teamed up together, not only with the law enforcement agency, but have these mental health professionals as part of this team. all right? when you talk about the due process that they're talking about, where you need to have this clear and convincing and make sure that there's extreme danger, just having the deputy testify may be ok. but when you have that professional there that can explain it, that can say, listen, i'm a clinician, i'm looking at him. he is an extreme danger. then the court gets that sense of, yes, this is the right thing to do. this is the right order to put out there to take this firearm away from these people.
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again, i cannot stress enough, it's -- the firearms are one thing. but think about it. people are using cars, knives, rocks, guns, pressure cookers. i mean, in boston, do you know they went as far as saying you know what, maybe we need to serialize pressure cookers and make it to where it's 21 you can't buy one. really, folks? all right, you need to identify the people that are going to go get a weapon and keep that out of their hands. it's that simple. sen. durbin: thank you, sheriff. i would like to just close by saying to mr. honberg, thank you for being here. we need to remind ourselves during the course of this conversation that mental illness is an illness, it is not a curse. there are people suffering from mental illness that are no danger to any other person on earth. in fact, they are more often victims than they are perpetrators. but having said that, there are those who are likely to cross the line. and we never want that to happen if we can avoid it. thank you. dr. janney: thank you, senatorrg:
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durbin. again, i could not agree more. and, you know, it's very important that we not conflate mental illness with criminality, because most people with mental illnesses are not criminals. and i also think that it's really important for us to keep in mind that with these orders, the most lives we save are going to be people who are at risk of taking their own lives sen. durbin: that's right. thank you. chair graham: senator cornyn is next. one quick question, mr. kopel. is arizona involved in trying to pass an extreme risk law? mr. kopel: it was up in the legislature last year. didn't pass. and i presume it's a matter of legislative activity again. again, whatever the pros or cons on that, the man who attacked gabby giffords, there were all the tools there to have dealt with him beforehand. chair graham: thank you. senator cornyn. sen. cornyn: thank you, mr. chairman, for holding today's
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hearing, and i appreciate all of you being here. i find it useful to ask myself what problem are you trying to solve when we approach complex issues like this. are we trying to keep guns away from people who are ineligible under current law? i would say yes. are we trying to keep guns away from people who are exhibiting mental illness and they are a danger to themselves and others? i would say yes. are we trying to keep guns away from law-abiding citizens that are neither ineligible nor suffering from mental illness. i would say no. are we trying to -- should we harden the targets that people use to attack or engage in gun violence? i would say yes.
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you don't hear much about people going into a police station with guns blazing. they go into schools and soft targets. and so to me, that should help direct our thinking. with the help of a number of you, mr. honberg, you in particular, nami, we have worked on the mental health aspects of this problem. and just so people don't think we have done nothing, let me just point to the 21st century cures act and the mental health and safe communities act, which was part of that, which was an effort to try to deal with the mental illness issue. every time i think about adam lanza and his mother in particular at sandy hook, she knew her son was mentally ill. and she simply did not have the tools available to deal with it. she could try to get him involuntarily committed, and he would be mad when he came back 72 hours later, and he still would be noncompliant. and with his doctors' orders to take his medication and the like. so ms. wilcox, i believe you have been active on assisted outpatient treatment as one potential way to address this problem. again, if you are a son, if you are a spouse or sibling of a
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person with mental illness who is an adult, it's very hard to know how to deal with that. but the assisted outpatient treatment allows you to go to a judge in a civil context, petition for essentially a court order that would require them to show up for their doctor -- to see their doctor and take their prescribed medication. do you think that is a piece of the puzzle here? ms. wilcox: i -- clearly, i think it's a piece of the puzzle. our aot scheme in california is called laura's law, named after my daughter, laura. we need many tools in the tool box. one, of course, is getting people into treatment, particularly those who are so ill that they don't recognize that they are -- that they need treatment. sen. cornyn: right. ms. wilcox: and that's what laura's law is for. interestingly, my work on laura's law, which was back in the early 2000s, really helped move the legislation forward, the irpa legislation forward in california. with both of these laws, we
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recognize, and you as policymakers are well aware, that you have the task of balancing public safety and civil rights. sen. cornyn: no doubt about that. ms. wilcox: and can we find that right balance. ? sen. cornyn: sure. ms. wilcox: and we had to make that same point for laura's law. sen. cornyn: thank you for that. i know my time is limited, so if you'll let me get to a couple other questions. of course, after the sutherland spring shootings that senator cruz and i unfortunately had in our state right outside of san antonio, 26 people killed by a person who we know was disqualified under current law from purchasing a firearm, what he did is he lied and because the air force didn't upload the derogatory information on the background check system, he was able to get those guns and kill those people worshipping that sunday morning at a small baptist church there in sutherland springs.
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we passed a bipartisan bill to require federal agencies like the military to upload that information and to incentivize the states to do the same. and i'm proud of the work that we've been able to do, both on dealing with mental health issues, as well as the background check problem. of course, you know, one of the things -- i think mr. kopel, you mentioned something about protective orders and domestic violence disputes. interestingly, as i recall the law, if you were the subject of a protective order, you are already legally disqualified from purchasing a firearm under existing law. is that your recollection? mr. kopel: that is correct. with some details on the facts of the protective order, yes. sen. cornyn: right, right.
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and mr. honberg, would you -- i appreciated your comments about the particularized showing in each individual case, not treating people categorically, but individually. i believe, ms. wyatt, you made the same point. for example, would you support these sorts of extreme violence protective orders issue against people with post traumatic stress syndrome? mr. honberg: i think it -- thank you, senator. i think it really depends on the particular case. not everyone with post traumatic stress disorder poses a risk of violence to self or others. and i think the treatment is obviously the most important service you can provide someone. but there may be some individuals who do pose risks to themselves or others. and having the availability of these extreme risk protection orders could be very, very helpful in removing the firearms temporarily from that person to basically protect that individual. sen. cornyn: with the chairman's indulgence, let me just express my gratitude to you, sheriff, for mentioning the suicide problem. 60% of gun deaths are suicide. people take their own lives. but, of course, there are other
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means for them to do so, even if they didn't have a gun. and you made that point. with a car, drowning, rope, other means. so this is the more complicated, perhaps than many of us have appreciated, and i appreciate your adding that texture and context. sheriff bradshaw: absolutely. can i make just one comment on something that you said very quickly? about the background checks? you know, in florida, if you want to get a carry and conceal weapon permit, there is a form you fill out, they give it to you. it says have you ever been arrested, have you ever been in a mental institution? who in the heck is going to
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check yes? nobody, right? but if you go back to the database to find out if this person should get it, that information is not in the database, unless you've had something where, you know, a court of jurisdiction has actually lodged you in there or you have some other type of system that can get that information. so if there's one thing that needs to be added to the database, is the ability and not again to stigmatize everybody that has been involved in mental health issues, but if you've had this contact with law enforcement where you've had to have your firearms taken or you've been adjudicated or , or you have had, continually had contacts where in florida , it is a baker act, where we lodge you into these institutions, somehow we've got to get around this hipaa thing , where that information is in there so the people that are issuing these licenses or selling these guns, they can check the criminal background, but they don't have that information now. chair graham: along those lines, i've been told there may be up to 1 million adjudications in the country where somebody has been rendered a danger to themselves or others at some state proceeding that are not into the background system.
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senator klobuchar is next. let me give an example of this. alice -- alice bolen was charged with trying to kill president bush and a secret service agent. she was adjudicated, assigned to found not guilty by reason of insanity, assigned to a mental health facility, released. none of that got in the system. went and bought a gun and went to ashley hall school and tried to kill the head master. the gun misfired. i think all of us would want that information into the system. senator klobuchar. klobuchar: thank you very much. thank you for having this hearing, mr. chairman, senator feinstein. so about a year ago, i was at the meeting with -- in the white house and sat directly across from the president. and we talked about these extreme risk orders. and as i said then, i come from a proud hunting state. i look at all of these common sense proposals about if they would hurt my uncle dick and his
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deer stand. they do not. and what they will do is save lives. and that includes universal background checks. and when we discussed this actual proposal, the vice president, who is sitting next to me, was positive about it. they have something like this in indiana. and the president said he was interested in doing it. even at this point said you wouldn't need due process, which i believe he didn't mean to say. but he also said he was for universal background checks. nine times. i kept track. and we still haven't gotten this done. so i am frustrated. i hope we can get this through. but here on this anniversary month of parkland, we still have not seen any positive changes. so i'll start with you, ms. wilcox. if we were to do something like this, could you just quickly talk about the importance of education so people -- the citizens know about it? i want to -- i looked up your daughter, by the way. and she was a beautiful, smart young woman. i am so sorry what happened. and i am so -- just in awe that you were able to tell that story and help us to advance the ball on this bill. thank you. ms. wilcox: thank you for that. education is paramount with this bill. we will not realize the benefits, the life-saving benefits, unless the key stakeholders know about it. in california, we first thought
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we needed to be educating family members about this law. then we realized we cannot educate family members if our courts and judges aren't ready to implement this. a family member in crisis most likely is going to call law enforcement. and they need to know. so education of law enforcement and first responders is paramount. in california, we've learned the challenge i think for law enforcement is how does this fill the gaps in existing law. we have our 5150 mental health hold law. the problem is, there are many people who are in crisis, probably situational crisis. they lost their job. they are angry at their boss. wife is worried. he's talking about shooting his boss. what am i going to do? or someone who is despondent, a new widow, the wife left the man, whatever. it's a situational crisis -- emotional crisis that does not qualify for the kind of mental health prohibitions we have in
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california. sen. klobuchar: ok. thank you. thank you. ms. wyatt, could you just quickly go through some of the due process provisions you have in your state law to get at a concern some people have? and then i have a second question. for years i've been working to pass the protective domestic violence and stalking victims act. and there's a house bill that's a bipartisan companion bill. we had two republican witnesses back in 2014 that agreed that extending protections to dating partners would be a good idea. as the racine county sheriff said, dangerous boyfriends can be just as scary as dangerous husbands. they hit just as hard, and they fire their guns with the same deadly force. could you talk about the need to update our federal laws and start with the due process protections to get at concerns that might be raised about the extreme risk bill and then end with the domestic violence.
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thank you. ms. wyatt: sure. to talk about due process, so i'm just going to walk you through what a normal case would be like and talk to you little about that to explain it. we would receive information either from law enforcement or perhaps from a family member that there's the at-risk individuals in a crisis. and we're talking about crisis. we're focusing on words, actions, and behaviors of that individual. so the law enforcement officer, family member, would fill out a detailed petition. i actually brought a copy, if anybody wants to see what that looks like for our state. it is five pages long. it is similar, i would say, in some respects to doing a search warrant for law enforcement. because you are attesting to these facts under penalty of perjury. so they're going to fill out this affidavit, they're going to come to the clerk's office. and i have got to say, none of these processes are particularly convenient for anybody that's coming into file orders.
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but this is the system. so they're going to come to the clerk's office and then they're going to take their papers, they're going to go see the judge. often ours are done ex parte. because once again, these are emergency orders, emergency situations. they're going to go into the courtroom. the judge is going to call them up, and they're going to be sworn in again.
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and then the judge is going to make a determination based on the petition and based on the information that they heard. whether or not it meets the standard to issue the temporary order. and then i want to say, after that, then if the -- because this is being done on an emergency basis, of course, the respondent, the person who is subject to the order, has to be served. so they have to have notice of it. so then they appear in our state within 14 days a hearing is set. at that hearing, we -- our system requires the petitioner to be present to state to the court why they brought this action. the respondent is allowed to cross examine the witnesses. he or she is allowed to call their own witnesses. so it's almost like a mini trial in front of the court. and it varies per judge. sen. klobuchar: ok. that's very helpful. just quick answer the second question. >> so to clarify, including -- ms. wyatt: so to clarify, including dating partners with federal legislation for protection orders and stalking, is that your question? sen. klobuchar: uh-huh. ms. wyatt: i think it's critical. we are -- we are having this challenge currently in our state to expand possibly our categories of protection orders, because it was based on the federal standard, which included -- you had to be married or have a child in common. so it's very important to know -- to include the dating partners, to give those folks protection. because domestic violence defendants are the most dangerous in the whole criminal justice system. if you look at the data. they're the ones that are most
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likely to -- obviously, if they're going to hurt their loved ones, hurt their children, they're most likely to kill law enforcement and others. and so i think it's vitally important. sen. klobuchar: thank you so much for your work, all of you. sen. cruz: thank you. thank you, mr. chairman. thank you to each of the witnesses for being here today and for testifying. the national epidemic we have of mass shootings and school shootings is a tragedy and it is one that i believe we need to do significantly more to prevent. the state of texas, tragically, has experienced this recently in horrific instances in both sutherland springs and in santa fe. i was in sutherland springs and santa fe in the hours following those -- >> end gun terror! end gun terror! >> please, sit down or be removed. thank you, gentleman jacinda arden for your leadership. end gun terror! assault weapons assault people!
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enough! do something! follow the leadership of prime minister arden. you're killing them! do something! people are dying! chair graham: you will get a minute back, and you will continue. sen. cruz: thank you, mr. chairman. as i said, i was in santa fe. i was in sutherland springs in the hours following those shootings, and what happened there was truly horrific. sutherland springs is frustrating, because that crime in particular was easily preventable. the shooter in sutherland springs, it was already doubly illegal for him to purchase a firearm. he had a felony conviction, and he had a domestic violence conviction, as well as mental health issues. but in that instance, the
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shooter lied about his convictions when he purchased his firearms, and tragically, the air force under the obama administration never reported his felony convictions to the background check database. we need to do much more. and in particular, i would urge this committee to take up and finally pass legislation that i filed over six years ago, the grassley/cruz legislation that i filed with the former chairman of this committee that targets resources on bad guys, on felons and fugitives that would have audited every federal agency to make sure that those felonies are reported to the background check database, which would have meant the sutherland springs shooter would have had his conviction in the database. but also critically, that mandates prosecuting the felons and fugitives who try to illegally buy firearms. every year, tens of thousands of felons and fugitives go in, try to illegally buy firearms and most of them are not prosecuted. had grassley/cruz passed into law, that shooter when he lied on that form and committed another felony, he would have been prosecuted, he would have been in a federal prison, and he wouldn't have been in that beautiful church, murdering those individual people. there is a great deal more we should do, but the right approach, i think, is targeting and focusing on bad guys. and i do think that extreme risk laws of the kind we're discussing can potentially be part of the solution set. that targeting those that pose an extreme risk that have
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serious mental illness and pose a threat to themselves or others is a law enforcement tool that can be helpful in preventing crimes of violence. now, as has been noted by several witnesses, policymakers have to balance the need to protect the public safety with also the obligation to protect constitutional rights and to protect civil rights. and so, mr. kopel, i wanted to ask you, in your view, what are the minimum protections that an extreme risk law should have to ensure that -- to comport with due process? mr. kopel: sure. use of ex parte proceedings only on a finding of necessity, as we have in federal rules of civil procedure 65. you can't normally just get a -- a t.r.o. against somebody because you think you have a good case. you have to demonstrate to the judge specifically why the other party isn't in court today.
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and what attempts you made to contact that person and if you're sufficient, then you can get the temporary restraining order. so ex parte orders only on a showing of necessity. a clear and convincing standard throughout. because if we're -- eventually going to have a hearing with a clear and convincing standard, an ex parte hearing ought to be a fairly easy thing to win with no opposition. right to counsel, including ideally providing appointed counsel for respondents. guaranteeing their right of cross-examination. for public safety and avoiding trouble, a vermont-style system where the subject of an order, a respondent to an order may surrender the guns either to law enforcement or to a federal farms licensee, a gun store, or to another responsible person who will store the guns and keep them away from the respondent. and a civil remedy for false or malicious accusations. those are what i would say is the core, and obviously my 27-page testimony gets into some
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more features. but those would be the most important. sen. cruz: and am i understanding you right that in your judgment of the different states that have enacted these laws, you think vermont's is the best constructed and strikes the best balance? mr. kopel: in those regards. i would say that connecticut has probably the best procedures for starting things, because they require anybody, dating partners, employees, teachers, anyone can go to law enforcement or to a state's attorney's office. but there's the filter of having a law enforcement or state attorney's decision on bringing it, and connecticut specifically requires that there must have been an independent investigation. you can't merely proceed on allegations that have no corroboration. sen. cruz: one of the things that you discussed in your written testimony was efforts of some of the gun control organizations to block the drafting of a model red flag law in the uniformed law commission. can you describe that at some additional depth? mr. kopel: sure.
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so when the conference of chief justices, which represents obviously all the chief justices of the 50 states, and i believe the territories and the district, asked the uniform law commissioners, which for over a century has been drafting model laws on many, many topics, to create a national model law. and obviously, it would be a uniform act that everybody has to adopt or implement on change. but a national model law for states to use as their starting point and adapt to their circumstances. and so we had a in-person meeting of the uniform of the study committee that was created for this in late november of last year. and then two telephonic meetings, which had some of the original people there. and then additional people. and we talked and argued some about different topics here, like ex parte, among others. and then the heads of the -- head of the committee took a
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poll and followed up by e-mail voting, and all of the comments, except from one organization, were, yes, let's go ahead and do this, and we would be happy to participate in the process. and the one organization that has its own very different model, which i view as going way to the extreme, said no, we don't think you should do this, because obviously it will be a competitive group. -- a competitor to our group. sen. cruz: which organization was that? dr. janney: that was the giffords organization. sen. cruz: all right. thank you. thank you, mr. chairman. chair graham: senator kunz. sen. kunz: thank you, chairman graham.
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thank you ranking member feinstein. i'm grateful we're holding this hearing today and working to try and find ways that we can support state efforts to enact gun violence restraining orders and then support them through training, through investment, through outreach and education. i do think that while we continue to respect and uphold the second amendment rights of all americans, we also need to find responsible ways to deal with a crisis in gun violence around our country. and just at the outset, i'll reference both senator cruz and senator cornyn referenced the sutherland springs killings where 26 individuals were killed and 20 injured, and the importance of dealing with background check denials. in particular lie and try efforts, which are not currently as thoroughly enforced as they could be. i am thrilled that senator toomey of pennsylvania is joining with me today in reintroducing a bill that says when someone goes in who is a person prohibited and lies and tries to buy a gun from a federal seller of firearms, federally registered, that there should be notification to state law enforcement if that individual has lied and tried. currently, there's a dozen states where state law enforcement is the principle point of contact. pennsylvania is one of them. so there's immediate
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notification to state law enforcement of what is a significant warning sign of someone who may well now try in another way to get access to a firearm. but there's 30 states where that's not the case. where federal law enforcement does the background check. delaware is one of them. texas is one of them. and state law enforcement in delaware has unanimously responded that they would welcome knowing when a person prohibited a convicted felon, someone who has been convicted of domestic violence, someone who is prohibited from owning a gun when they go into a licensed firearm dealer and lie and try. they would act on it, and it would have, i think, a positive outcome. so it's my hope that other members will consider again joining. it was cosponsored by a number of republicans and democrats in the last congress and i think it's exactly the kind of next step we should be taking. if i could briefly, mr. honberg, just thank you for nami and for what you do as advocates. when i was in county government and responsible for a county
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police department, we had a truly tragic and unnecessary shooting that resulted in the death of a mentally ill individual. nami came in and really helped us train our department in terms of deescalation, how to better understand mental health and how to interact with individuals with mental health in ways that destigmatize. and sheriff, sounds to me as if you have done a tremendous job at integrating mental health professionals into your law enforcement response. miss wilcox, i just -- words cannot express the depth of my appreciation for what you and your husband nick have done to take an incredibly tragic loss. laura went to college very close to where i live. i know young people who are students at haverford. my own twin boys are 19 and freshmen in college, and the idea to losing them to an act of senseless gun violence like that is beyond what i can imagine any parent bearing. and that you have then turned this into effective advocacy is to me a truly inspiring story of what families can do. let me just ask, if i could, both miss wyatt and miss wilcox, in the brief time i have left,
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just tell me, do you think that sharing nick's background denial information with state and local law enforcement would help make our community safer? and how would that contribute to then being able to act on the potential for gun violence where someone who is a person prohibited has gone in, lied and tried to buy a gun? >> i'll go first. yeah. i -- my terminology is investigating denied purchasers. so this is someone who wanted a gun and was prohibited, presumably because they committed a crime or had a mental health prohibition, and were considered dangerous of a future act of violence if they had a firearm. so if they want a gun, and i think it would be very wise for law enforcement to investigate the circumstances and actually whether they had also been able to somehow acquire an illegal gun at the same time.
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california notifies the jurisdiction where the gun was purchased, and there is pending legislation to notify the jurisdiction where the person resides. the law enforcement and of that jurisdiction. which makes more sense. sen. coons: miss wyatt and mr. bradshaw, would this be a helpful tool in the tool kit to deescalate perhaps intervene if there is an emerging crisis with someone also trying to get access to a firearm? >> absolutely. and we have this law in our state. and i can tell you we've had two individuals who had extreme risk protection orders against them , and those two individuals went on to try to purchase. and they were charged, i believe, under our law. they were charged as gross misdemeanors. certainly, this is vitally critical information, especially for victims and families. we're tracking both domestic violence offenders trying to purchase as well as following the extreme risk protection orders. so i think it's vitally important for community safety. sen. coons: thank you, ma'am.
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sheriff? >> i would take it one step further. with the gun shows, you have people that will go into what we call straw purchases, the gang people are really good at this. they'll get somebody that's clean on the face, go in, here's the laundry list of guns, take out, and now give them to the bad guys. so if we're going to do the lie about the getting the gun and doing something, we need to do the same thing with those people that are involved with the straw purchases. we monitor that very heavily and we catch those people on a regular basis. sen. coons: thank you. thank you all, both, for your testimony and for your service to our nation. thank you, mr. chairman. thanks, senator holly, for letting senator lee go next. sen. lee: i appreciate that, senator holly. thank you for what you said about straw purchases, sheriff. i've been very, very impressed with your testimony anyway.
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but the straw purchases -- why we don't find ways to close that, close the gun show loophole, that should be easily done. they should have real record checks. now it's in paper, because one of the gun lobbyists didn't want us to have electronic -- have been afraid to vote to have real background checks. i spent eight years in law enforcement. i know how much better it is if you can do a real background check. in fact, i think that what we ought to do -- you know, there's lobbies one way or the other on this issue. let's bring the issues up and vote on them. vote them up or down. i'm perfectly willing to do that instead of just talking about it, let's vote them up or down. we did this to get rid of bump stocks, and now it looks like the supreme court is going to uphold what we did there. that's one step forward. but there's so many. large magazines.
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we don't need that. state, they limit on your semiautomatic, two or three -- i think three or four rounds during deer season to give the deer a chance. i would like to see children given be a chance in their schools and make that illegal. close the gun show loophole. i mean, this is ridiculous that somebody can come in and they could have a felony record and buy five guns at a gun show. and i'll tell you who would appreciate that. legitimate gun dealers would. they're paying taxes. they have to follow the law. and they see these guys selling them, and that's what your straw purchase is, as you know, comes in. i don't mean to give a lecture. i come from a state which has --
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mr. kopel has talked about it -- a law passed that was signed into law by a republican governor in a state that has a very large percentage of gun owners. and i didn't hear any people too concerned about having tough laws. miss wyatt, delighted to see you here. >> thank you. senator lady -- sen. leahy: i remember a long time ago as a prosecutor having a case with the king county prosecutor and went out there. i think it was extradition. i suspect the office a little bit smaller than it is today. but in washington state, if you want an initial temporary order, you say you have to prove there is reasonable cause to believe the individual poses significant danger. for a longer order, you must prove it by a preponderance of
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standard used in almost all civil litigation reasonable cause is akin to probable cause in the criminal law context, right? >> correct. sen. leahy: thank you. same procedure that must be used to -- in an ex parte procedure, obtain a search warrant if the person is home and take their property, or even make an arrest. is that correct? >> yes. sen. leahy: you've been a prosecutor for nearly two decades. actually being a prosecutor is the best job i ever had. >> thank you. and the standards of proof you have, probable cause, reasonable cause, these standards struck the right balance? >> i believe they have. and just to offer a comparison, in our state, when we are looking at clear and convincing evidence, that is our standard that we use to terminate parental rights for somebody. so those are dependency
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proceedings that are at that high burden of clear and convincing. sen. leahy: the -- and you have a specific team just designated for that, is that correct? >> we do. we work on orders to -- we work on firearm enforcement with folks that are subject to other protective orders. so domestic violence, stalking and sexual assault. and as well as extreme risk protection orders, yes. sen. leahy: that's pretty -- that's somewhat unique around the country. >> it is. sen. leahy: i applaud you for it. >> thank you. sen. leahy: mr. honberg, do you feel it's important that extreme risk protection orders focus on -- let me read this. specific dangerous behavior rather than a mental health diagnosis? >> yes. that is correct, senator leahy. and i know i'm sounding a little bit like a broken record here. sen. leahy: well, go ahead. >> but we know that 4% of violence in this country is attributable to mental illness. that means that 96% of violence
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is not. so if somehow, miraculously, we were able to cure mental illness, which we're far from being able to do at this point, we would not be appreciably reducing violence. so -- and i think it's really important not to paint serious mental illness with an overly broad brush. are there a subset of people who may pose risks of violence? yes. most people don't. and there's also, you know -- we know that young males pose an increased risk of violence. but we don't want to -- we know that most young males are not violent. so i think it's very important that we talk carefully about this. and what i like about these laws is that they really provide as close to an evidence-based approach to identifying and responding to risk of violence that anything i've ever encountered. thank you very much.
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thank you, mr. chairman. and you, senator hawley. sen. graham: senator holly. sen. hawley: thank you, very much. thank you, mr. chairman. ranking member. thanks to each much you for being here and for being willing to testify and share experience on this extremely important subject. and i want to express again my concern in the growing epidemic of violence. particularly i think youth violence we're seeing around the country. and i hope that we can look and this committee and others will look into not just the after the fact results of this terrible violence, but the causes of it. the social causes of it, and including the role of perhaps social media and others in driving this youth violence, which i think is extremely important. i've looked at the different statutes around the country, the 14 different states and the district who have laws like the ones we're talking about today. and they vary quite widely, as
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we have discussed. and as a former prosecutor, former attorney general, of course, i'm very concerned we protect the due process rights of all persons involved while keeping weapons out of the hands of those who are criminals, those who are a danger to themselves and others. and that, of course, is a balance we have to strike every day in the law. we do this in many contexts, not just when it relates to the second amendment rights, although the second amendment is a federal right. but it's a familiar balancing act we have to perform with the law and certainly need to perform here. mr. kopel, let me ask you, i want to come back to something you were saying with senator cruz, talking about the differences in these laws. you pointed out that connecticut, you think in many ways their initiation process is an ideal one and i take it you think that's because it requires a state's attorney or law enforcement officer to initiate the proceedings. can you just say more about why you think that is a good process as protective of due process? >> sure. there are lots of people who might know about somebody who does pose an extreme risk, and there are also lots of people who might, just as they take advantage of lots of other laws about alleged child abuse or domestic violence and things like that, ugly divorces and
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situations, false accusations do happen, sometimes often. so connecticut has a good filter on that, which is anybody can go to law enforcement and ask them to initiate this petition. law enforcement then has two officers or a states attorney has the obligation to conduct their own independent investigation, and based on that, they go forward. even so, we still have a high error rate. 32% error rate, even with law enforcement as the filter. but i would suggest that's probably -- sen. hawley: that's in connecticut? >> yes. but when you broaden the scope of anybody who can come in for any reason, sometimes good intentions and sometimes not, that would tend to, i think,
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make the error rate even worse. in colorado, certain a lot of the legislative testimony we've heard about the bill has been many women who were in divorce proceedings have said, i'm terrified of this bill, because if this had -- because the colorado law allows a huge number of people to initiate. a woman said if this bill had been around when i was getting a divorce, my husband would have used it against me. we've heard that from many people. so the law enforcement judgment is an important part of practical due process protection. sen. hawley: what are some other states whose procedures across the range here are good models as you look at these laws? >> the colorado law has something -- that's not quite law yet -- that provides for court appointed counsel for all respondents. vermont does a good job at de-escalating come the popular topic among everyone -- the escalating, the popular topic
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among everyone on this panel, the confiscation process. instead of having the law enforcement automatically show up and say i'm here to take your guns, instead, the person who is subject to the order can -- rather than having the guns hauled out by the police -- can give them to like a gun store or another responsible individual. that's something that has to be done quite promptly. but it's less confrontational than forcing law enforcement to walk off with someone's guns. sometimes there are situations where law enforcement absolutely should, but that doesn't always have to be the mandate. that can be more of the judgment of the officers in the courts. sen. leahy: thank you. thank you, mr. chairman. [indiscernible]
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sen. blumenthal: let me begin by thanking the chairman, senator graham, for his courage and insight and having this hearing and in recognizing the importance of a sensible, common sense approach to guns in the hands of dangerous people as litigating attorneys who both recognize the importance of due process and respecters of the constitution, we certainly acknowledge the importance of the due process clause and of the second amendment. it is the law of the land. but at the same time, keeping guns out of the hands of people who all but put an ad if the newspaper that they are going to kill people in a school in parkland simply is intolerable, and i have just come from a group of parkland students who are visiting the capitol today, and i want to say that they would very much respect you, senator graham, for having this hearing. and i appreciate it.
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i also want to recognize some of the folks from connecticut in the audience today. i don't know whether they are still here, but melissa cain, paul murray, leaders of the gun violence prevention movement in connecticut, and kristin and michael song, who lost their son ethan because of a killing that was the result of the failure to safely store a firearm. and their courage and strength have inspired me, and they remind us, sheriff, of what you said at the very start. there is no end all. there is no panacea. there is no single solution here. it has to be a comprehensive approach, including, in my view, the background check law that the house recently adopted. i hope we will do so in the senate, and other measures that have been endorsed and supported by members of the committee, including myself. but the extreme risk protection
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order will make us safer. it will help save lives. and i want to take serious issue a 32%he contention that reconsideration rate reflects errors. , i amt, on the contrary proud that judges will review new facts, that people who are out of crisis may have guns return. that we recognize that folks that may be regarded as dangerous because they are mentally ill, and fact, when more facts are known, have weapons returned to them. this kind of statutory framework can be done in a way that respects individual rights and protects people from danger to themselves, suicide. and let me just recognize the
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loss of a wonderful friend, a brave parent who lost a child at sandy hook, dr. richman, jeremy richman, who took his own life yesterday morning, a neuroscientist who was exploring the reasons why people are violent, what happens in the brain that triggers violence. let me ask you, dr. wyatt -- i'm sorry, ms. wyatt, is washington state possibly safer if other states have similar statutes, even though washington state has its own extreme risk protection order statute? would you be safer with others? >> absolutely. and there's an issue of full faith and credit we need to talk about, too. [inaudible]
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oh, i'm sorry. so there's an issue of full faith and credit, as well. we want to make sure that when a court in any jurisdiction is issues sing one of these orders, that individual cannot go to another state and purchase. specifically that has come up in these hearings. we have had correspondents tell respondents tell the court, can i go to a different state and purchase? obviously that causes great alarm to us because the court has just issued that order, yet they are looking for other avenues to be able to do that. so i do think it would make washington and other states much safer to have this universally done. sen. blumenthal: and let me ask you and the sheriff whether you think that safe storage law, in requiring basic bendards of safety for
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applied to the storage of limits some of the risk of firearms. >> i'm not an expert on that. it's a common sense risk reduction tool. but i can't speak to it in great detail. >> there's no doubt about that. we have had a couple of incidents in south florida where young children as low as 4 years old have shot themselves with a firearm that wasn't properly secure. the parents were prosecuted for not having done that. but i would like to go back to something you said that's important. one of the beauties of when i created this unit is after care. just because we put them into a facility and the facility says after 72 hours, you're ok to go out, that doesn't mean you're ok from here on out. that just means you're ok and stabilized now. so part of what my unit does is stays in contact with the family. if it's a juvenile, they'll work with that. if it's an adult, make sure that
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there's some after care, some follow up work with the family , and make sure they're on their medications. when it comes time for the hearing for follow-up, to see if in fact those guns should be back, the deputy and that mental health provider, service provider that has partnered with us will be able to say to the judge, yes, we have done the follow-up. we've worked with this family for the last year. we believe they have turned the corner and stabilized, and have the opportunity to get it back. i think that's an important part of what happens in these hearings. sen. blumenthal:. thank you -- sen. blumenthal: thank you. thanks for making that point. and thanks to this excellent panel. thank you, mr. chairman, for putting together.
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sen. ernst: yes, thank you, chairman, and to all of our witnesses. thank you very much for making the time to come in and be with us today. i appreciate that very much. the red flag laws that we're talking about here today don't exist in a vacuum. and the rights and protections enshrined in the constitution need to have a front row seat in this discussion because these laws apply to every american. why is this important? because the red flag laws that we're talking about today will, whether justify or not, will deprive individuals of a constitutional right. this isn't something that any of us take lightly. any red flag legislation that comes before this committee or senate as a whole, should we proceed, needs to include protection for due process rights of americans, and many have spoken about that today. it does need to be narrowly tailored and show a strong respect for the right to keep and bear arms. i'm not opposed at all to examining the role that mental health plays in gun violence. i think this is very, very important and necessary as part of this discussion -- suicide. and the tendency to use firearms to commit suicide is an issue that we very much need to address. mr. holmberg, i want to talk
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about the issue of suicide with you, please. in your testimony, you note that in 2016, the u.s. department of veterans affairs reported that about 20 veterans per day take their own lives. you also note that we've seen a rise in suicide rates among young veterans between the ages of 18 and 34. this is a tough question to answer, but what accounts for the discrepancy and suicide rates between veterans and civilians, in your opinion? >> well, i would hardly cast myself as an expert on suicide. but many of our veterans, particularly our young veterans, have experienced, have heroically defended our country and experienced horrific circumstances that most people have not experienced in their lives, and come back and need
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services and support. again, i want to be very careful not to cast too broad a brush here. sen. ernst:. -- sen. ernst: absolutely. thank you. >> but i think it's important we reach out and support veterans and that we provide people with access to treatment and convey the message that it is ok to acknowledge you may need some mental health care. that is why it is so important for us not to talk about mental illness only in the context of violence and criminality. the fact is these are -- we are all vulnerable to mental health challenges under the right circumstances. so we really need to create an environment that is supportive of people stepping up and getting help. i think that has real relevance to how we deal with issues around extreme risk protection orders and the background check system, etc. sen. ernst: yes, i would think
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that would be a delicate balance. as a former commander serving in a combat zone during operation iraqi freedom, i know many soldiers and returning veterans that do need to seek assistance. many may be reluctant because of the stigma attached to that, but also the fear if they are seeking assistance, mental health support, behavioral support, could that be used against them to take away their rightfully owned weapons? it is something that needs to be considered as we move through any potential discussion in this area. how often does someone exhibit an external indicator of suicide? >> it varies from case to case. there are some who speak fairly openly and where those around them may be very aware they are
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vulnerable, and others who tragically do not give indications. one thing about suicidality that i think is also relevant to this discussion is that sometimes -- and i don't want to discount it -- it is an impulsive act. the person feels overwhelmed at the time. if steps can be taken to intervene and prevent the person from acting, they may never again act on those impulses, or even feel those impulses. which is why creating an environment that even voluntarily allows people to voluntarily relinquish means they have for taking their own lives would be a productive steps to take. sen. ernst: because my time is expired, i want to thank everyone for being here today. these are discussions we have to have. we want to make sure there is due process in place for all of those involved as we move forward. thank you very much for being
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here today. i appreciate it thank you very much, mr. chair. senator booker. sen. booker: i want to thank everybody for being here. i want to thank the panelists as well, those in the audience who are following along and pushing this debate forward. there is too much carnage in our country. i am 49 years old. in my lifetime alone there have been more people that have died in our country due to gun violence then in all the wars combined, going back to the revolutionary war. it is a stunning amount of pain and hurt and agony that shakes me to my core. something has to be done. i am grateful for the chairman for holding this committee. i am deeply grateful for him stepping forward to do this. we have got to do more, though. we have got to pass common sense gun safety laws. i can't believe we watched new zealand come together as a
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country within seven days of a mass shooting and do something. we may not agree with their tactics or strategy across the aisle, but we can do so much more. there is so much common ground on this issue. we are the world's most deliberative body. there are common sense solutions. a lot of things put on the table by senators from both parties that can make progress. thatusly not something will fix everything, but that can help to save lives. something is simple as background checks. i was in a iowa diner with a guy with a maga shirt on. we had a conversation. he came at me hard thinking i wanted to take away his guns, but when we can cut through the partisan rancor, we ended up hugging each other and realized we needed universal background checks. he agreed, just like me, that we cannot have a country where someone on a terrorist no-fly list that can buy a gun at a gun -- buy a trunk full of
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weapons at a gun show. over 80% of gun owners don't understand why as a body we can't have a vote on legislation and put it on the senate floor. there is something wrong with society that can't get things done where the overwhelming majority of people agree we need to get it done, and what are the consequences for it? i think i am the only senator that lives in a neighborhood where there's regular shootings. my senator has done something about it -- excuse me, my mayor has done a lot to reduce violence. two weeks ago, across the street, a young man was shot. a block away from where i used to live, murdered with an assault weapon. when we have fourth of july in my city, you get parents telling you stories of kids hiding in closets, exhibiting the behavior
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of people with ptsd, in our communities. black men make up 6% of this nation's population, yet we are more than half of all the victims of homicides each year. and so this is something that is very painful to me that we can't do something to address these issues. and i'm tired of seeing sidewalk shrines to dead children in my community and in cities all across america, and people doing nothing to put gun safety laws in place that we agree with in terms of getting it to a vote in this body. my friend across the aisle just read the suicide statistics. i don't want to gloss over them. she rightfully pointed out your
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testimony is stunning. there is one page of your testimony where you rifle through things that should shake the core of everyone. you call it an epidemic. reason fora top death among not just 10 and 24, but veterans, 20 a day? and so i'm -- it is hard for me to go home to know when i hear gunshots that echo, that hurt, that destroy communities. my friend who works at an ihop desperately needed the shifts her family -- to pay for her family. a shooting outside the business made them cut a shift. i am hoping it is good to have a hearing -- god bless you
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, chairman, for having this hearing. let's have some committee votes on the stuff that is bipartisan. if a guy in a diner in iowa with maga shirts, if he and i can come to an accord, we in this body should be able to come to an accord and have some votes on common sense legislation. any poll will show you that, overwhelmingly, gun owners in america say we should do that. lindsay will tease me later if i don't get one question in. [laughter] sen. booker: i have this problem that we don't see this as a public health crisis. the cdc is not even allowed to have funding to research gun violence.
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it is something i am confused about, that we would starve from the publics as health crisis this is. a i would just ask, what does holistic approach to gun look like to you, and what should the senate judiciary look towards in terms of common sense approaches to gun safety? >> you mentioned research. i am proud california established the university of california firearm research center so that we can further dig into what is working and not working. california is different than the nation in this regard. i live in a rural county. i meet with gun owners all the time and people who think they disagree with me all the time. by the end of the conversation, we find there is much common ground. i would say the two policies
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there is most consensus over is background checks for all gun sales, and the other is extreme risk law. everyone knows situations where there is someone dangerous. maybe mental health. probably or often it is a situation of emotional crisis. everyone agrees, an extremely dangerous person, heightened anger in a crisis, probably shouldn't have a weapon. i believe there is more consensus than our politics in our nation allows us to realize. i would like to mention, we have two remember what is at stake here. it is not just the shooting that happens that day. we are finding out now what happened a year ago in parkland with two students who killed themselves last week. a father thatok, killed himself.
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this issue does not go away for those families. at the very least, let's proceed on these policies where i think there is broad agreement and figure out how to get it right and how to move this forward. sen. graham: thank you, senator booker, for the kind words. senator hirono. sen. hirono: thank you mr. chairman for holding this hearing so we can hear from the panel, and also to learn that blacks constitute 6% of our population, yet represent over 50% of victims of homicide in our country. some people dedicated to the march for our lives delivered letters to my office asking us to ask for background check requirements and to support senator feinstein's red flag warning. their advocacy in favor of laws
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to reduce gun violence is inspiring, and i challenge the adults in the senate to rise to their challenge. it has been mentioned how the horror of parkland and sandy hook continues to play out in the tragic suicides of a number of the people there. it really breaks our hearts. there are many supporters of the red flag laws and other sensible gun legislation in our audience today, as well as those who are standing outside listening to this hearing. yes, there is a constitutional right to bear arms, but no constitutional right is unfettered. that is why we are here today. kopel, you are the director -- youresearch institute are the research director of something called the independence institute, which has received over $1 million from the nra. the nra's driving purpose is to
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represent companies that make and sell guns and withstand all efforts on our part to enact sensible gun legislation. one wonders how objective you are on the issue of safer gun laws. nberg,e ask you, mr. ho this question. almost 25 years ago congress passed the dickey amendment referenced by senator booker, which prohibits the cdc from using federal funds for doing research into preventing injuries from gun violence. do you think that makes sense we would be so afraid of research that we have to set aside the use of federal funds to study the impact of gun violence in this country? >> is that a question to me, senator? sen. hirono: to you and to mr. honberg. very briefly, do you think this makes sense? >> your premise on the dickey amendment is incorrect. the dickey amendment forbids use of federal funds for advocacy,
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not for federal research. sen. hirono: advocacy is often in the eyes of the beholder. honberg, would you like to weigh in? >> i will respond just to the question about research. the question is an evidence-based approach to preventing gun violence. i think the more research we can do to learn what can be done to prevent gun violence and some of the tragedies we have been talking about today is something we would strongly support. sen. hirono: you don't think it makes a lot of sense to be so afraid that we will set aside approving the use of federal advocacy research. >> i cannot comment on the dickey amendment. sen. hirono: i would just say if you care about fact based research, you would not want to prevent money setting aside that would be available. ms. wilcox, thank you for what you have done to turn your grief
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into action. you spent many hours in the redto explaining flag laws' benefits to legislators. what mischaracterizations do you think can persuade those who are undecided about them? >> i think many people think it is just for people with mental illness, and as we've heard and as mr. honberg said so well today, most people with mental illness are not violent. i am saying that as someone whose daughter was killed by a mentally ill person. he was severely mentally ill. ,here is a category of severely persistently mentally ill who are not in treatment who may be more violent. in general, they aren't. we need a tool for disarming -- with due process -- disarming a person who is at heightened risk of dangerousness, maybe because
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of the condition of mental health, maybe because of a condition of heightened anger, maybe because they are in a temporary crisis. sen. hirono:. thank you. i think that is the concern we have. mr. honberg, does senate bill 506 provide language that would ensure we are not imposing these limits on people who have been diagnosed with mental illness? are you familiar with the purposes of the bill? >> yes, having read it and also having read the bill introduced by senator rubio, first of all i think it is terrific that it is a bipartisan effort to pass a law authorizing extreme risk protection orders. having read s-506, i think there
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is strong due process language in there. i also like the fact that there is some attention paid to the of training law enforcement, responders, and for doing outreach and community education. i think those things are critically important. sen. hirono:. thank you -- sen. hirono: thank you you. thank you, mr. chairman. sen. graham: i think that is all. excellent panel. thank you all for coming. i am far more enlightened than i was before. we will see if we can find common ground. i am sorry you cannot find uniform law, but each of you in your own way gave a lot of insight into -- i can't see why we can't pursue this at the federal level to incentivize states to do what others are already doing. the benefits are enormous. if you just stop one, that is enormous. there has to be due process.
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we all get that. it seems between connecticut and vermont and indiana, you can make a stew that works. so we will keep working. thank you all. anybody who would like to submit something for the record, you can do so within a few days. the hearing is adjourned. [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2018]
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>> [chatter]
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>> i appreciate it. >> no problem. [chatter]
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♪ announcer: get to know the freshman members of the 116th congress this morning on "washington journal." learn more about the most diverse of lawmakers in history. >> i am real. i'm authentic. i am not going to be a politician's politician. >> captain of the national guard. served in afghanistan. >> mcdonald's franchisee for 22 years. >> i had this fascination with the idea of finding answers to the questions that no one else finds. >> my dad is actually a lifelong republican who has never voted for a democrat, but he voted for me. announcer: watch "washington journal" at 7:00 eastern this
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morning. join the discussion. announcer: a group called new dem action fund hosts a discussion on a range of issues. live coverage of the event begins today at 1:00 p.m. eastern on c-span three, online at, and on the free c-span radio app. this week on "the communicators," ncta president michael powell is interviewed by .washington post" reporter it's talk of demise are dramatically premature. broadbandicance of helps compensate for the competitive pressures on video. i think they've managed video
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