Guest Editorial: On the Third Anniversary of the Café Racer Shooting, a Call for "Extreme Risk Protection Orders"


Thank you to the authors for their work and for their compassion to each other and to others, such as Haq's family.
Look at it this way.

James Holmes was part of a competitive graduate program that only allowed four students a year in.

It was a career track program that would have slotted him to a position as a high level mental health.

His sponsor was the National Institute of Health.

He did science projects in college where he interacted with scientists and health professionals.

Yet, with constant contact by doctors, specialists and professors in mental health, not a single one had any inkling that he would use his PC to order assault weapons and stage a deadly attack.

Even if we do institute some type of "extreme measure" the people who are supposed to know these things...still have no idea. No metrics to forecast behavior or filter out the one individual who will suddenly flip and do these things.
@2 - the authors address that when they acknowledge that not every shooting can be stopped. Wouldn't a substantial reduction be a good thing, though? This would be a measure with a very high barrier to use, and it would be temporary. If a person's health improved, then they could have their guns back. Have you ever had a person in your life really, truly go off the rails? It is a terrifying thing to witness up close.

I'm arguing "not any" not "not every".
I'd argue "substantial reduction" myself. I'd also like to see the legal precedent for removing one's federally protected rights at the state level solely over the fear that an individual might do something.
Sadly, I acknowledge such a precedent may exist in modern times.
The law, as proposed, is a trampling of due process rights. Where is the ACLU?
@5 and 6 - in fact, the ACLU of Washington is neutral on Extreme Risk Protection Orders. That's because the bill sponsors worked with the ACLU to address concerns about protecting due process.

Extreme Risk Protection Orders require a hearing before a court judge before any order is issued. If an order is issued, the case is reviewed after two weeks to determine if the order should be continued. Based on that hearing, the order can be voided or extended for up to a year.

Unfortunately, the gun lobby often misuses "due process" as a cover for a "general philosophical opposition" to bills like Extreme Risk Protection Orders, to use the term of the NRA's lobbyist. They're not interested in an equitable solution. They're playing what Rep. Drew Hansen termed a game of "whack-a-mole" meant to bury the bill.

Protecting due process and Second Amendment rights is a core part of Extreme Risk Protection Orders. The sponsors worked aggressively with opponents - even the National Rifle Association - to make sure due process concerns were addressed, and the bill was modified to address those concerns. But as sponsor Rep. Laurie Jinkins told the Spokesman Review earlier this year, the gun lobby was had made up its mind to kill the bill.
I see a lot of due process insurance in that data, but no Constitutional consideration. I see no care taken to protect 2nd Amendment rights at all.
I don't own a gun. I don't listen to the NRA. I applaud the intent of this legislation. I'm just worried, because the devil is in the details and I don't see the details I want to see in this kind of legislation contained in this bill.
If a loved one in my family was in this situation, I wouldn't wait through some judicial process, I'd just go take the guns, through stealth or connivance or whatever means necessary. If that landed me before a judge on a theft charge, I'd happily explain the necessity of my actions.
#11, you do realize all that would do would allow the victim (the person you are trying to steal guns from) to get a protection order against you, and perhaps send you to jail, yes? The "necessity of your actions" would be inadmissible in court and even if admissible could not legally sway the judge in any way, shape, or form.
@8: How will this square with what we now know are federally protected fundamental human rights? Specifically, the right to own and carry a gun for self defense.

As to the "hearing before a court" before issuance: That's a rubber stamp - always has been for DV protection orders and the like. Usually, the respondent has no idea she's even been named on the petition. How is one supposed to defend against allegations they don't even know about?
So, this plan relies on the family/loved ones of someone they think is a little "off" getting the courts and police to go take away hundreds or thousands of dollars of that stressed out person's property ? Is there a "I'll got get my popcorn ready" phrase for gun violence (maybe "SLoG RSS feed at the ready") ?
@14, a "little off"? No. "hundreds or thousands of dollars" of property? No. I think you're smarter than that comment makes you appear. But maybe not.
@15, you think guns have no monetary value or do you actually have enough thought capacity to make a reasonable rebuttal ?

I'm curious if you really think there's an evil policitcally connected cabal devoted to making sure disturbed individuals have guns in their hands - "gun lobby’s “general philosophical opposition” to keeping firearms out of the hands of disturbed individuals"
Yes, this is just what we need: A stern order, backed by people armed with guns, for an allegedly-unstable person to refrain from possessing guns. This will be great.
#17, what communities do you frequent? I'd like to know, so I can make sure I stay miles away from you. You seem to show the very behavior you attack, and I do not trust your level of stability. I wish to fulfill your user name, and avoid.
@8. The hearing is not a contested one. Those seeking the order are present but not the person who is the subject of the order. So for two weeks, on one-side's say so, someone's civil rights can be taken. Who is to say the family member, lover, or ex-lover, seeking the order is acting in "good faith" or benevolent concern?

Then there is the reality (I worked in mental health) that some mental health clinicians have clients who express suicidal or homicidal ideation all the time but don't act on it. Some have clients who never express such ideation but who's clients either kill themselves or others without ever having shown any signs of doing so. Mental Health professionals would be the first to admit that for all the good they do, they can't predict who will, with our without weapons, attempt suicide or homicide. Mental Health workers don't want to be put in the middle of battling families, lovers, and ex-lovers.

Folks in these threads express (out of proportion to the problem) concerns about police abusing authority granted to them to protect the public. Now they want to extend similar authority to the general public and make one-sided courts, mental health professionals, and police their puppets. So much for cognitive consistency.
@24: Exactly, George.

Furthermore, if the family can't make the case for an involuntary commitment, or won't even bother with going to court, why would their going to court for this sort of protective order be any more effective, or likely... or right? If the person gets the care and hospitalization he needs, the firearms won't be an issue. He couldn't access them while in the hospital, and wouldn't need to be restrained from accessing them, if and once he has proper care.

How much more superficial can WAGR be? If the person is such a danger to himself or others that such a protective order is truly needed, not getting that person into a proper treatment setting is just inhumane.

There has long been a lesser standard for impairing civil rights in family law, where there is distinct pattern of wrongly disabling a person's firearms rights, by way of restraining orders, often a boilerplate action abused by the spiteful other party in the dissolution of a marriage while seeking leverage over the other.

That systemic corruption of the purpose of RO's must be considered when perhaps allowing a person yet another means to impair another person's civil liberties.