House Democratic Caucus Urges Action on Gun Violence Prevention Legislation

Proposed Legislation Would Fill Gap in Existing Laws

At a press conference this afternoon, the House Democratic Caucus urged the legislature to take action this session on gun violence prevention legislation.

“Every day that goes by without us addressing these issues in a meaningful way puts our students, teachers and law enforcement at great risk,” said House Democratic Leader Anthony Daniels. “This is too important to just put off.”

A number of proposed measures have been introduced and discussed over the last few weeks including the “Gun Violence Prevention Act” sponsored by Rep. Merika Coleman which would empower law enforcement and families to prevent gun violence through allowing them to obtain an Emergency Risk Protective Order (ERPO). These orders reduce access to guns for individuals identified as being at an elevated risk of harming themselves or others.

“We must do more to prevent dangerous situations and gun violence in the first place,” said Rep. Merika Coleman. “This is a commonsense measure that fills a gaping hole in existing law that would do just that.”

While current law prohibits such high-risk individuals from purchasing firearms, it does not provide a legal process for removing existing weapons from their possession. These protective orders would address this hole in the existing law.

Law enforcement and/or family members or household members of an individual exhibiting dangerous behaviors would have the ability to petition for a protective order. They would have to provide credible evidence that the individual poses the risk alleged in the petition. This evidence may include recent threats or acts of violence by the respondent toward him or herself, recent violations of domestic violence protection orders, or evidence of a pattern of violent threats or acts.

Reports following the most recent school shooting in Parkland, Florida suggest that such an order could have helped prevent that tragedy as the accused shooter had several alarming interactions within his household and law enforcement regarding threats and weapons.

House Democratic Leader Anthony Daniels also responded to the continuing discussion of a proposal to arm our state’s schoolteachers saying, “Allowing loaded guns in all our classrooms will only pose greater dangers to our students and to our teachers. Gov. Kay Ivey had it right the first time, there has to be a better way.”

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