Preventing Suicide Through Sensible Policy

Extreme Risk Protective Orders (ERPO) Save Lives

How does ERPO Work?

ERPO gives families and law enforcement officers a way to ask a judge to temporarily prohibit an at-risk person from purchasing or possessing a gun. ERPO is a non-criminal process that involves a court hearing and clearly defined due process protections.

How can ERPO help save lives?

  • ERPO is effective because guns present a uniquely lethal risk in cases of attempted suicide
    • 90% of suicide attempts using a gun are fatal, compared to 5% of most common alternative methods (Azrael, Miller)
  • Suicidal acts are often impulsive and fleeting and, thus, preventing access to the most lethal means is crucial
  • Saving someone’s life in the near-term will likely save that person’s life in the long-term
    • Just 10% of those who survive a suicide attempt go on to die from suicide later (Owens, et al)

How are suicide and gun violence related?

  • Every day 65 Americans commit suicide using a gun (CDC)
  • In 2017 nearly half (47%) of all suicide deaths in Wisconsin involved guns (CDC)
  • Over 75% of all gun deaths in Wisconsin are deaths due to suicide (Giffords Law Center)

Is suicide a unique problem in Wisconsin?

  • The suicide rate in Wisconsin was higher than the national average in 2017 (15.45 people vs 14 people per 100,000 people) (AFSP)
  • 926 people in Wisconsin died from suicide in 2017 (AFSP)
  • Teen suicide in Wisconsin has almost doubled since 2007 (CDC)

Does ERPO violate our Constitutional Rights (2nd Amendment, Due Process)?

No. The Supreme Court ruled in D.C. vs Heller that the 2nd Amendment allows for firearm restrictions that are “presumptively lawful.” Moreover, ERPO follows due process through the court system by allowing a judge to make an informed decision to temporarily remove firearms from people posing an imminent threat.

Isn’t law enforcement already removing firearms from people posing a threat?

Sometimes; but municipalities have been sued for this because they do not have the legal backing that ERPO provides. Meanwhile, Chapter 51, which is sometimes invoked by law enforcement, is more complex than ERPO and is often inadequate for providing safety to someone who is suicidal.


Sources

The epidemiology of case fatality rates for suicide in the northeast.
Matthew J. Miller, Deborah Azrael, David Hemenway. 2004
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15159703

Fatal and non-fatal repetition of self-harm. Systematic review.
David Owens, Judith Horrocks, Allan House. 2002 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12204922

Suicide Statistics
American Society for Suicide Prevention (AFSP)
https://afsp.org/about-suicide/suicide-statistics/

Fatal Injury Reports, National, Regional and State, 1981 – 2017
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
https://webappa.cdc.gov/sasweb/ncipc/mortrate.html

Photo Credit: Illustration by Brian Stauffer for Rolling Stone

wave2019Preventing Suicide Through Sensible Policy
read more

Policies to Save Lives

Overwhelmingly, Wisconsinites – from every part of the state – support commonsense gun violence prevention policies.

The following laws would help prevent gun violence in Wisconsin:

Require background checks on all gun sales.

  • In Wisconsin, federally licensed dealers are required to conduct a background check on all firearm sales, but private sellers are not. This private sale loophole allows just about anyone to sell a gun with no background check, no identification, and no questions asked.  Between 80% and 90% of Wisconsinites, including gun owners, support background checks on all gun sales. 
  • In the 10 years following Connecticut’s passage of its law requiring prospective handgun buyers to first get a permit – by passing a criminal background check – firearm homicides declined by 40%.[1]

Create a mechanism that allows for the temporary removal of guns when individuals are in imminent danger of harming themselves or others.

  • Often after a horrible act of violence, families say they saw warning signs – red flags – but there was nothing they could do.
  • An Extreme Risk Protective Order (ERPO) gives families and law enforcement officers a way to ask a judge to temporarily prohibit an at-risk person from possessing a gun. The ERPO is a non-criminal process that involves a court hearing, as well as clearly defined due process protections.
  • When our loved ones are in crisis, they should have access to quality care, not guns.

Prohibit those with violent misdemeanor convictions from possessing firearms for 10 years. 

  • In Wisconsin, people with a long history of violence, such as assault and battery, can still buy guns.
  • Research shows that one of the strongest predictors of future violence is past violence. A study found that people who lawfully bought guns after being convicted of two or more violent misdemeanors were 15 times as likely to later be arrested for murder, rape or aggravated assault.[2]

[1] Rudolph, K., et al, “Association between Connecticut’s permit-to-purchase handgun law and homicides,” American Journal of Public Health, June 2015.

[2] Wintemute, G., et al, “Prior Misdemeanor Convictions as a Risk Factor for Later Violent and Firearm-Related Criminal Activity among Authorized Purchasers of Handguns,” JAMA, 1998.

wave2019Policies to Save Lives
read more

Gun Violence Prevention Citizen Action Day

We Deserve To Be Heard

The majority of Wisconsin lawmakers have ignored the evidence, ignored their constituents, and ignored the devastation gun violence thrusts into the lives of Wisconsinites. It’s time for us to pack the Capitol full of citizens, who are united in their determination to prevent gun violence. 

Citizen Action Day Details:

Deserve To Be Heard on Thursday, October 24th, 2019
9:45am – 10am – Check-in at Bethel Lutheran Church, 312 Wisconsin Avenue, Madison, WI
10am – 12:45pm – Orientation on gun violence in Wisconsin, training on citizen-lobbying best practices, and lunch at Bethel Lutheran Church
1:00pm – 3:00pm – Meetings with your elected officials or their staff members at the Capitol 

$15 fee includes your lunch and all training materials. 

Sign up to attend!

wave2019Gun Violence Prevention Citizen Action Day
read more