tv Senate Hearing on Stopping Gun Violence - Part 1 CSPAN April 29, 2021 3:47am-6:09am EDT
subcommittee on the constitution. >> i called to order this first meeting on the subcommittee on the constitution. welcome my colleagues, most especially, the ranking member on the subcommittee, senator cruz. thank you for your cooperation in scheduling this hearing. i look forward to this collaborative effort. we have been joined by senator grassley, the ranking member of the committee. i will turn to you after senator cruz. we may be joined by senator durbin for opening remarks as well. last month the judiciary committee held a very important hearing. as my colleagues know, on constitution and common sense steps to reduce gun violence that has recently claimed so many lives in atlanta, boulder,
indianapolis, and elsewhere. gun violence is a real problem. we all know it. but there are also real solutions. i believe, strongly and passionately, that we have a path to put some solutions into law during this session. i believe we can with bipartisan cooperation. i am not naive. i do not believe that all gun violence prevention proposals will be adopted by you and emmett -- unanimous consent. but i hope that this afternoon at least we can focus on one topic or there does appear to be at least some measure of common ground, extreme risk orders, also known as risk warrants. that is the name in connecticut we have adopted for red flag laws.
whatever you call them, we know they save lives. we know that red flag extreme risk orders save lives. their practical and proven tools that allow law enforcement, under some statutes and others, including family members, to keep guns out of the hands of individuals who possess and pose a danger to themselves or others. in other words, separate people from guns when they are in crisis. firearms make dangerous decisions far more deadly and your reversible. to give you one example. among commonly used methods of self-harm, firearms are by far the most lethal. for people who seek to take their own lives, the for talent he rate is approximately -- the
fatality rate is approximately 85% with a firearm and a 5% by any other method. firearms are used in less than 6% of suicide attempts. but, they account for more than half of stuart -- suicide death. in 1990 nine, connecticut became the first in the nation to enact an extreme risk order, we call it a risk warrant. studies have shown that are in the first 14 years of the connecticut law, for every 10 to 20 risk warrants listed -- issued, at least one suicide was prevented. many who tried to take their own lives were compelled or persuaded to seek help.
that made a real difference in their lives. that is not some abstract statistic. states across the country have used red flag statutes as critical suicide prevention tools in portland, oregon, law enforcement was able to remove tenant firearms and bar future firearms purchases after a man called 911 and threatened to kill himself and his three-year-old son with a gun because he was frustrated that he was not able to make a child support payment. the same is true probably in all of your states. i know you have heard these stories. i will not recount more. but i will put my full statement in the record. these laws do not just prevent suicide. they have been used to stop mass shootings, homicides, terrorist threats, and hate crimes. authorities in florida used
extreme risk order law to remove an ar-15 from a high school student who had said he would kill himself and his ex-girlfriend. as my colleague, senator graham, has pointed out, the parkland shooting resulted after the killer in that instance practically put an ad in the phone book saying he was going to shoot people, but authorities could not stop him for lack of a red flag statute. after it happened, they adopted one in florida. these laws are bipartisan among the american public, in state legislators, and in congress. 84% of americans, including 78% republicans, support red flag
laws. there are now 20 jurisdictions, blue states and red states, with these vertical tools in place. others are on their way to passing and implement in the laws. president biden has announced that the justice department will soon publish model legislation for states that will help them adopt these statutes. i have worked closely with not only my colleague, senator graham, but also, senator feinstein, senators rubio and scott. i look forward to making progress. let me touch two points. first, indianapolis. the tragic events in indianapolis show how crucial effective implementation and enforcement is to the success of these efforts. indiana has a strong red flag law named in honor of a police
officer who was killed in the line of duty in a situation that may have been prevented had a red flag been in place at that time. earlier this month, a shooter killed eight people in a fedex warehouse in indianapolis. several months prior, please had taken a shotgun from him after his mother reported that he might try to commit suicide by cop. law enforcement a new he was dangerous. prosecutors just did not use indiana's red flag law. to bar that individual from purchasing new guns. and he did, in fact, purchased two semiautomatic rifles in the months that followed, which you used in that massacre. -- which he used in that massacre. some have said that indianapolis shows red flag laws do not work and not to be scrapped. i think the point is ridiculous.
there are 6 million car accidents in the u.s. every year. that does not mean we throw out seatbelt requirements or speed limits. we insist on more effective enforcement of those laws. that might have prevented those accidents or crashes or deaths. the preventable loss in antibalas -- indianapolis proves that even in jurisdictions where these laws exist, effective implementation is critical. we will hear today from witnesses who will tell us how federal grants would support training for prosecutors and others to enhance those state 's effective use and enforcement.
our proposals on red flag statutes are designed to provide resources, training, procedures, other kinds of a sick nuts and bolts -- basic nuts and bolts steps. due process. to those critics who raise the specter of due process concerns. extreme risk orders provide robust due process protections that comports with both the constitution and the supreme court precedent governing due process considerations. that is my goal here and in whatever i do formulating and passing red flag statutes. my models require that those grants and resources provided
two states are conditioned on due process protection. these orders are temporary. they are used only by judges. the judges have to take evidence . the determinations are based on that evidence. the evidence is submitted under penalty of perjury. when a temporary order is issued, before it becomes permanent, the individual subject to it is provided with notice and an opportunity to both challenge the evidence against them and present evidence of their own. once the order expires, the individual subject to it must have a firearm returned to them so long as they are not otherwise prohibited from having it. so, i think we are in an era that feels different about gun violence. i am hoping we can reach bipartisan consensus.
gun violence is not inevitable. extreme risk order laws, red flag statutes, prove it. i welcome my colleagues this afternoon and hope that we will indeed make progress. thank you. i turned to senator grassley. i understand he would like to be recognized because of time constraints. i am happy to do so. sen. grassley: i thought i ought to show my support for this hearing and an important issue of crimes committed with individuals struggling with mental health issues. i was going to start by talking about the indianapolis situation. but, senator blumenthal already cover that well. so, i will move on to a fact that earlier this month tragedy struck one of -- when a 25-year-old man rammed his vehicle into the barricade steps
from this chamber. we know that this man's actions tragically took the life of u.s. capitol police officer lee evans . while the act -- exact motives are unknown, social media profiles indicate the man was the follower of a group that holds racist, anti-semitic, anti-lgbtq beliefs. it is too early to tell of those beliefs motivated this man to commit the act of terrorism. what is clear is the man was struggling with mental health issues. today, we are talking about red flag laws. i think we should be looking into possible solutions for gun violence. i thank you for having this hearing. i do think that red flag laws are generally estate rather than federal issue. i also want to state my strong beliefs that any state that
decides to enact red flag laws should do so with strong due process protections. to safeguard an important constitutional right. i just heard what senator blumenthal said about those strong due process laws and want to make sure they are always followed. but i also want to say that -- red flag laws are scarcely the only option for ensuring that persons with mental issues are prevented from engaging in violence or self harm. i turned to some legislation i put in as a partisan support called the eagles act of 2021. a commonsense piece of legislation building upon what the secret service successfully does over decades. this bill carries the namesake of the parkland, florida marjory stoneman douglas high school mascot, the eagles. it is a tribute to the 17 eagles
who tragically lost their lives three years ago at the hands of a fellow student who struggled with severe behavioral problems and mental health problems. if he had been sent to get help that he had ought to have had, he would have been in a database and unable to purchase a gun. this legislation helps proactively mitigate threats of violence in our country through reauthorizing and expanding the u.s. secret service national threat assessment center also known as in tag -- ntag. observing behavior, and potential stressors coupled with stress assessment training can vent harmful -- can prevent harmful outcomes. in order for this to be effective, we need to increase capacity to continue research
and threat assessment training. the eagles act brought the resounding endorsement this week from the national association of attorney general's. 40 attorneys from across the united states believe that the ntag proactive approach is critical for violence prevention. we cannot afford to ignore the urgent pleas for assistant -- assistance. i urge my colleague to support the eagles act. we can provide -- the more we can provide, the more violence we can prevent. >> thank you senator grassley. thank you for your input. senator graham and i have worked for quite some time over the years to adopt an approach that is as inclusive as possible, as
respectful of due process and meets all the challenges that you raise. thank you for being here today. with your permission, senator cruz, i would like to turn to senator durbin. senator cruz? sen. cruz: thank you, mr. chairman. there was no one in this country who is not fed up with and furious when we hear that another monster has used a gun to take an innocent life. there is not a person in this country who is not heartbroken when they learn about another suicide. every life is a gift from god. every innocent life that is lost is unique and tragedy. in texas, we have seen far too many mass murders at the hands of deranged and sick individuals. i was in santa fe the morning of
that shooting. santa fe high school is less then an hour from my house. i was in el paso at the walmart after another mass murder. i was in midland odessa after yet another. i was in dallas where five police officers were murdered by a deranged radical. i was in sullivan springs in that beautiful sanctuary where a monster murdered innocent women and children. i care deeply about stopping violent crime. gun crime in particular. i have spent much of my adult life in law enforcement. trying to stop violent criminals who prey upon the innocent.
and working to ensure they receive the most stringent punishment. but one thing is abundantly clear. if the objective is to stop violent crime, restricting the rights of law-abiding citizens does not work. in fact, it typically makes crime worse. because when you disarm law-abiding citizens, you make them more likely to be victims. two years ago, when we had a hearing on red flag laws on the full committee, i said that those laws could potentially be part of the solution set at the state level. i still believe that. these states are laboratories of democracy. they are the proper place to debate the substance of red flag laws. we should not be imposing a federal standard or putting the
federal government tossed -- federal government tossed -- government's thumb on the scale with federal grant programs. especially when 19 states and the district of columbia are already experimenting with these laws. but i continue to believe that even at the state level, laws must be narrowly targeted to those who pose an extreme risk while simultaneously having full force to the fundamental rights of all law-abiding americans. many of these state laws implement it fall -- implemented fall short of this standard. none of the democrat's current proposals come close to beating it. rather than taking a measured and respectful approach, radical gun-control advocates see red flag laws as a way to open the door to comprehensive gun control.
one of the drafters of connecticut's red flag law, that we heard about earlier, the first in the country, admitted this last week on cnn, stating that these laws only work as part of comprehensive gun control legislation. the fact is, democrats do not want americans to own guns. in august, 2019, a television interviewer asked candidate joe biden the following question: so to gun owners out there who say a biden administration means they will come for guns? biden's response? bingo. they're not hiding it. it is no surprise that this administration and the democrats in congress and anti-gun groups are pushing red flag laws that will take guns from americans. in connecticut, 32% of
confiscation orders are overturned when a judge finally hears both sides of the story. this is after the government has already seized the firearm. this means that one out of every three people who has his or her firearm seized by the government under connecticut's red flag law is an innocent citizen. that is unacceptable. one reason that the error rate is so high is that most of these laws do not even purport to satisfy due process. every red flag law currently in operation permits the government to order the confiscation of firearms here is only to follow at some
later time. ex parte hearings may be necessary in some extreme cases, but they should not be the default standard. moreover, in many states, the word of a spurned romantic partner or disgruntled coworker is sufficient to meet the water down standard of unilateral, albeit temporary, defamation of second amendment rights. red flag walls empower the government to take firearms first and -- walls -- red flag law would empower the government to take firearms first and ask question later -- questions later. democrats don't care that law-abiding americans reserved
light -- right -- americans lose their rights to these walls -- laws. he told one of the witnesses it did not matter if a law-abiding citizen lost their right to the red black lulls -- red flag laws because they can purchase -- reveals the content for the second amendment right to keep and bear arms, and it is dangerous. second amendment right is not about hunting, about recreational shooting, it is about the fundamental right to protect our lives, our homes, our families. it's the right we have if somebody comes into our home at
night seeking to harm our children, to defend our children and to defend our lives. the red flag laws being pushed by democrats in control activists are designed -- democrats and gun control activists are designed to deny americans their rights. no research has found any statistical reduction in crime, occluding -- including mash shooting fatalities -- mass shooting kelly's -- mass shooting fatalities and -- we need to act to stop gun crimes and i have four legislation to
do that. red flag laws are not the answer. we don't need to impose a dismissal of second amendment rights on the country. >> i want to make the point, i cannot speak for every democrat, i can speak for myself, i am not against americans owning guns, i am very much in favor of the law that americans have second amendment rights. i would oppose any law that took away second amendment rights. no right is absolute, so far as the connecticut study is concerned, we have been through this issue again and again and again, that 2014 study reported
judges ruled that the weapons needed to be held by the state 68% of the time. and the remaining 32% of the cases, the guns were not given back, the orders were not overturned. in many cases, the guns were given to someone else so the state did not have to keep them, a family member or someone else. and only 10% of known cases of risk warrants in connecticut were the guns actually returned to the individual. i think we need to be very clear on the fact that these red flag statutes preserve constitutional
rights, that misleading numbers can be cited, the plane flat -- fact is they saved lives. i will turn to the chairman of my committee. >> thank you mr. chairman. rls is your first hearing as chair, and i want to thank you to start off this -- for starting off this conference on important topics. the gun violence is an epidemic in my home state of illinois. we have the equivalent of at least one mass shooting every weekend when we put together the number of people who are injured it killed by guns, every weekend in the city of chicago. i always thought the problems with those numbers is they don't hit you with one big number, they keep coming at you every single week and. if it is a holiday weekend, it is dramatically worse.
the use of guns by those who think they can never have enough , children are being shot. it to rural and a car and lakeshore, a seven-year-old at a mcdonald's drive-through -- a two-year-old in a car on lakeshore drive, a seven-year-old in a mcdonald's drive-through. i thought the point have been reached on december 14, 2012, when a gunman murdered 20 children and six educators in connecticut, i thought, that has got to be it. finally, we are going to do something. countries have responded to far fewer deaths virus -- by changing the whole approach to
guns. sadly, a month after sandy hook, even key reforms, overwhelmingly supported universal background checks, were filibustered and failed. while congress is here again in else to act everyday, the deadly toll of gun violence rose. not just in chicago, but across the country. i want to say one thing, we often speak about people who are mentally unstable and should not be owning firearms, the vast majority of people dealing with mental illness are not violent and dangerous. we should not assume they are. many treatment and help and can lead perfectly normal and safe lives.
there are exceptions, many times deadly. in 19-year-old gunman murdered eight people at a fedex facility. it was horrific. in march 2020, that gunman's mother had contacted the police department to inform them that her son's recent firearm purchase concerned her because she he suggest -- because he suggested he would provoke the police department. they placed him on a temporary mental health hold and held his firearm. in july and september of 2020, the gunman was able to legally buy two semi automatic rifles, which he used to -- use for this mass murder. -- used for this mass murder. we have a firearm restraining
order that took effect in 2019. the law allows family members and law enforcement to petition the court to temporarily move firearms from the possession of an individual who presents a risk to themselves or others. a firearm restraining order has been issued 59 times under this illinois law in two years. estate of 12 million people, it's been used -- in a state of 12 million people, it has been used 59 times in two years. i've talked with law-enforcement officials and point out it takes resources to carry out these orders, they need help. i think this is a tool, not the overall answer, but an important tool that can save us. if it avenues, i think it could have saved those eight lives.
i thank you for discussing this. -- for calling us in today to discuss this. one bill is not going to solve gun violence in america, but shame on us if we reject a common sense approach that most gun owners endorses the only sensible way to take -- to take guns out of the hands of -- >> the current president of colorado gun owners safety, a chapter of gifford's gun owners for safety coalition. sick -- he is a gun owner, hunter, and advocate for laws to prevent gun violence. he's previously promoted laws in
front of the gun violence task force. david kabul is a research director and associate policy analyst with the cato institute in washington and adjuvant professor of advanced constitutional law at the university of denver earns -- denver's college of law. his discussed firearms, he is the author of 17 books, hundreds of articles, and 100 scholarly journal articles. before joining the institute, he served as an assistant attorney general of colorado. he is going to join us remotely.
kimberly wyatt is the prosecuting attorney. she is work on cases involving child abuse and other crimes of violence. most recently, she has been part of a newly formed domestic violence regional firearms abortion unit. this role invites law enforcement and family on all aspects of extreme risk action orders from investigations to court proceedings. miss wyatt also works on firearms compliance cases and high-risk domestic violence firearm offenders. biggie go sir -- and vicki go
sir -- nikki gosear -- she's a graduate of the your city of tennessee at knoxville and earned her degree -- of the university of tennessee at knoxville and earned her degree in psychology. he has spent three decades working on gun violence from vegan -- good violence prevention issues from 2013 he help form for the risk-based firearm policy. they're designed to promote policies that can prevent those at a higher risk of violent behavior from possessing firearms. the basis for california's first gun violence restraining order
which passed in september 2000 14 -- 2014. i'm going to ask you to please stand. so that i can administer the oath. do you swear that the testimony that you will get the truth, the whole truth, so help me live -- so help you god? >> thanks. mr. ben comeau, we will start with you. >> good afternoon, chairman blumenthal and the members of the committee for this opportunity to testify today. my name is ben comeau, i am a parent, a gun owner, and a proud resident of colorado for 30 years. as a retired combat veteran with 31 years of service in the united states navy, i know what it needs to be a patriot.
i have seen the carnage of war and know the physical scars that it -- the emotional and physical scars that it leaves. i'm the president of the -- we are a national organization of gun owners who support responsible gun ownership and common sense gun laws. we proudly support the second amendment, but we can no longer ignore that our country is in the midst of an epidemic. the daily threat of gun pilots -- gun violence is a shocking reality across the country, especially in our veteran community. as a veteran call eyewitness ey fellow service members died at a tragic rate. there are over 600 -- 6400 veteran suicides a year.
that is more than all the service members killed in action during the last 18 years of operation iraqi freedom. tragically, colorado veteran suicide rates is about the national average. out of the veterans had died in our state by 2018, 112 used a firearm. firearms are the most people means used in suicide and account for nearly 70% of veterans deaths. our veterans are a segment of the population that is unique position to own firearms. when faced with a crisis such as suicide, they often choose the most convenient and we perform, which is a firearm. on more than one -- legal form -- convenient and lethal form, which is a firearm.
generally, veterans do not mental health help. instead, i was the one that answered the call. i was the one that drove to their house. i was the one that convinced them to seek help. i was the one who took into the hospital, took possession of their firearm, took custody of them when they were released from the hospital. sadly for the 6400 veterans that committed suicide last year, they did not have someone like me to help them. that was significant -- taking the guns from someone who has been found by the court to be a specific risk to themselves and others is not an infringement on
your second amendment right. the bill passed and colorado mckinney 70 state within extreme risk law. -- colorado became the 17th state with an extreme risk law. passing an extreme risk law was not easy. many people raise the unfounded fear that it would lead to the mass confiscation of weapons by law-abiding gun owners. after a year of the law being in place, it has been proven to be effective without infringing on second amendment rights. 2020, colorado 1200 -- filed by law enforcement and family
members. only four files resulted in issuing a risk protection order. it was used to disarm a 47-year-old veteran who threatened to shoot himself and police officers. colorado has proven this law works. it protects individual rights, does not allow a person's guns to be removed without real evidence, or if a person is a danger to themselves or others. please do everything in your power to say lives and shape veterans of suicide. i urge this congress to support state efforts to pass in -- to pass and implement risk protection orders. unlike thank for the leadership on this issue. >> thank you mr. comeau.
>> thank you mr. german -- mr. chairman and subcommittee members. i group the american civil liberties union that gun confiscation walls may be a reasonable way to further public safety. to be constitutional, they must at a minimum have clear nondiscriminatory criteria for defining persons and a fair process. due process should recognize the loopholes created for one type of social circumstance eventually become the widespread norm.
for example, secret surveillance and police military -- militarization. any -- that convinces a judge to only hear one side of the case, -- you describe it correctly, i had misread it. and indiana, where this study -- where they studied the due process hearing, 29% of orders were dismissed when the judge heard both sides of the case. people should not be subject to confiscations for expressing their first amendment rights.
which is perfectly legal in every state, along with a caption, it is done. the second post criticized teenage anti-gun activists for trying to take away people's right. the retirement he works as a school crossing guard. one day he complained that the schools police officer cap leaving five coffee -- leaving -- police officer leaving to buy coffee. mr. nichols was concerned that someone would take advantage of the officers frequent absences. it took half a year for mr. nichols fire left -- license to be restored.
he or she can to survive by telephone, then the judge is denied the ability to -- which is essential for the court to make credibility judgment. -- judgments. sometimes, attorneys will -- explaining how he talked respondents out of using lawyers, warning them if they did they would have to pay for an attorney if they did not go along with what the prosecution wanted. federal funding can encourage states to broaden the availability of work appointed counsel. according to the u.s. supreme work, cross-examination is
beyond any doubt the greatest legal invention. under some statutes, the accuser and the witness supporting the accuser never have to be testified. note operates should be the exception, not the norm. colorado, no docs require a judicial warrant issued at the request of an attorney. violent no lock grades for any purpose should only be allowed when authorized by the court -- based on the specific circumstances of the case. law enforcement officers should not be put in the position where they have to confiscate firearms wherein -- which the accuser never went to court.
potentially false -- though subject to these potentially false and damaging allegations should have the right to sue. thank you. >> thanks. i like to add kimberly wyatt to give her testimony. again, i think it is by remote. >> good afternoon. my name is kimberly wyatt and i and the assistant that you prosecuted attorney for the kerry washington. -- the county of washington. you will hear about the need for
urkel is limitation and benefit about the coordination with law-enforcement and real-life application. -- our nation grieves as it alters frequently does after -- in the aftermath of mass shootings. it is time for us to act and make a difference in curbing firearm violence. one of these tools is the projection orders. cash is extreme protection orders. -- tools is extreme protection orders.
being of -- alert to information is the key to saving lives. the firearms enforcement unit has helped intervene and threats to the community -- in threats to the community. so i can petition for a temporary order that -- intervening at the time of the warning signs can make a difference between life and death. there is a built-in process as the judge oversees each case. there's a need for education.
in this critically important that law enforcement and other partners and community members are aware -- and threats of mass violence. having a dedicated prosecutor and advocate having -- in real time has appeared to be a successful model. to understand how this is worked in my jurisdiction, i want to get a context of where i am from. the population of 2.2 billion people and comprised of wills will organizations of all portrait agencies.
it covers cigar and rural areas. the numbers don't tell the stories alone, please look at the facts of several of the cases. in one suicide prevention case, a father said his son was actively suicidal, had access a firearm, and it temporarily removes the firearm from the home. this law of common sense was used to project his son. a employee made threats of mass violence against his employer when he was put on leave. he stated he had nothing to live
for. while federal law enforcement investigated those threats, a temporary ergo was obtained. his other firearms purchase where intercepted by law enforcement. in ergo was filed against ache member of a nazi group. -- including threats of mass violence. -- and threats against the jewish community. every ergo case represents the importance of acting before someone becomes a risk to themselves or others.
extreme protection orders to save lives. i know this firsthand. every state deserves to have this lifesaving legislation. thank you. >> thank you misses wyatt. i would like to introduce nick -- nikki gosear. with 40 "a i just want to say how deeply our hearts go out to you for your loss and we appreciate you being here today. >> thank you mr. chairman. can you hear me ok? >> we can hear you. >> thank you. i am here speaking as a victim of violent crime. i would like to give you some insight into how red black walls -- red flag laws are -- i had
asked management to remove the men -- van from my establishment because i realized i was being stopped. -- lou -- remove the man from my establishment because i realized i was being stalked. my stalker was incomplete control. -- in complete control. because of the law, i had to leave my gun in my car. i observed that law. my stalker did not.
ben's murder has been sending me letters for years -- murder has been sending me love letters -- twisted love letters for years. the days, months, and years that followed have been difficult. depression, grief, loss, and concern were mice -- concern for my safety are all things i have had to work through. put yourself in my shoes, how would you feel? i remember thinking 1 -- thinking at one time, if i were to pass away in my sleep, i would be ok with that. even those with the best of
intentions could have had an exaggerated concern and assume they were acting in my best interest and have my guns taken from me. it would be devastating for me to not be able to protect myself if my stalker violated me. if he comes after me one day, my good might be the only thing that can save my life. rights should never be taken from people without due process first, a mental health expert should absolutely be involved in that due process. like the burden of hiring a attorney and paying thousands of dollars for representation, who knows how much money it would take in court. the process is unfair and burdensome.
anyone who has dealt with traumatic events can be infected -- can be affected. affects very from having no significant effect to an increase. i learned from the trial that there were signs my stalker was a danger to others years before we cross paths. his coworkers, friends, and family knew of these signs. i don't know if people in his life reported him, but if they did they did not act. ben's murder threatened to kill his own secretary at his job forever. he fired a shotgun out of anger at innocent hunters that were near his property. at this point, he should have been arrested, charged, and can
be in. but for some reason, that never happened. he had no criminal record and no mental illness on record, but he certainly should have. somehow, he fell through the cracks. they put you on a 72 hour hold, they give you a mental evaluation, -- there is a whole range of options, you can do outpatient or -- if someone is a real danger to themselves or others, simply taking away their guns is not a real response. there are other ways to commit suicide that have similar hi success rates. and who inclusion, i think -- training for law enforcement, judges, and prosecutors on
enforcement for existing laws. please whom would you not forget compassion for good people going through a difficult time. >> thank you. mr. horwitz? >> good afternoon chairman blumenthal, ranking member roos, and distinguished rivers of the committee. thank you for giving the opportunity for -- giving me the opportunity to testify on the importance of extreme protection laws. like you and so many others, i
came to violence prevention because of my own loss. back then i did not have the knowledge or tools to intervene effectively. i wish i could go back in time, but i cannot and i cannot bring my friend back. what i can do, is what i'm doing now, encouraging policymakers like you to usual power and support lifesaving policy so that no other family or friend has to experience this type of heartbreak. gun violence remains high, taking 40,000 lives each year. 60% of those are suicide. extreme risk laws help prevent needful violence before it occurs have the potential to
save many lives and are gaining traction throughout the country. in blue and red states alike, endorsed by both trump and biden, this policy provides clear opportunities to find common ground in extending this clear wide nation tragedy. national dialogue was around -- focused -- focused on mental illness. to determine if this approach would be effective, to identify risk factors for violence and to formulate evidence based policy recommendations. this group became known as the consortium for risk based firearms policy. firearms based only on ms. -- and horribly stigmatizing.
we's -- instead, we identified behavioral factors including alcohol use. many high-profile shootings and suicides, the only universe were often the first to know that their loved one was in crisis. to address this gap, the consortium developed the modern day extreme risk perfection order. based on long-standing domestic violence orders -- in connecticut and indiana. today, a total of 19 states in d.c. have extremes laws are the books. there are usually two types of orders. expert j and final. in some cases, the temporary order wish to quickly last 14
days provides enough time to mitigate risk. importantly, both temporary and final orders which reportedly last up to one year are civil and not criminal. there are targeted and processes in place for returning the firearms at the conclusion of the orders. multiple -- of these balls are -- show they are effective. extreme risk laws and reach their full genital only if they implement it effectively and fairly. i met with people all over the country and learning from stakeholders putting them into practice. use of those laws not only between dates, but between cities and counties do. they're a state-level policy
that the federal government play important role -- advanced state implementation efforts. biased supporting local jurisdictions to train law enforcement officers, judges, and clerks, we -- to help ensure -- improperly reported records. unfortunately, this month's mass shooting highlights the detrimental failure -- eight families might not be grieving right now. we cannot allow these cases fall through the cracks for lack of resources and training. too many lives are at stake. gun violence is preventable. i'm sure not everybody agrees with every risk law, but
removing -- from a person at a high risk of violent writing do. thank you for this arch energy to testify, i look forward to your questions. -- thank you for this opportunity to testify. i look forward to your questions spirit -- i look forward to your questions. >> i will begin the questioning. i don't know of any red flag or extreme risk law that has been struck down by any court. >> you are correct. >> while you say that is given all the whole abu -- given all of the hullabaloo we have heard about. >> is a very similar situation.
instead of a spouse worried about the risk to them from another spouse, what happens in a situation where these souse is a danger to the gulf. it's the same risk factors, the threats of violence. to get the sense of how that works the same and are from state to state. we will establish all 50 states, court know how to use it, i think that is why they have found to be -- been found to be constitutional. >> i heart that that is why bread flags are necessary, because of domestic violence. is that true? >> that's a big question, a domestic violence restraining
order is not available for someone who is at risk of suicide. when you think about how it is broader, law enforcement can go and use a civil order and many situations, but -- so it is broader, but built on the same process and same protections. >> you target could be a school, so network, a stranger, anyone. -- a school, your work, a stranger, anyone. elaine has been a -- the claim has been made that the process for regaining a firearm is costly and burdensome. >> when the order expires the
firearms get returned. these are quick processes, and typically in the united states lawyers are not invited for protective orders. >> if he firearm is for, the burden is on the prosecutor, or the official who wanted it to be obtained to prove that there is some danger were some severe risk, or extreme risk for a region. the border for that is to show evidence, not just make the claim, correct? >> you have to prove it twice in most cases, often times the burden of proof is higher the second time around. >> the burden is always on the
prosecutor. >> i'm sorry -- >> let me just ask the miss wyatt because you have a unit existing of law-enforcement, a paralegal, a data technician, who all assess the danger before you can go cheap debt and warrant that separates someone from a firearm. you are extremely cautious and demanding of worship -- of yourself before you exercise that power, is that correct? >> yes. we are going through to make sure that ethically and legally in meat the standard for a
protection order. then we will have the petition for the courts to prove that the individual is ace -- is a significant -- there are many different ways, we have a population of two point julie people. -- 7.0 02% of the population. we are very specific and targeted. >> it takes resources to run that kind of unit, and that is exactly the kind of resources and support we would try to provide through this legislation for states. we are not talking about a federal mandate, it is state
statutes that would be supported, encouraged, and incentivized. let me finish with a quick question. in your experience, i think a very substantial proportion of victims of suicide are -- why is that? a personal -- >> a personal thought that there is a stigma in the community to seek mental health. we are trained warriors, we are strong, we have a job to do, and we cannot allow our personal emotions to get in the way. we carry that on when we get out of service. it is a strong sense of pride
for us. often we will not see help. >> so going to court in a red flag case has the effect of persuading -- is that correct? >> i was safe they are required by the court, then yes. they would have to, by the nature of the case would have to then seek some kind of mental counseling. >> they do mr. sharon. i was remiss at the outset of this theory and not congratulating you on being chairman of this committee. i had the pleasure of being the vice president and president on this committee for the past couple -- mr. couple, last time
you and i spoke, i asked you what the minimum objections that eight supreme risk wall should have. you responded that while she not have x artery proceedings. respondents should have a right to counsel and the right to cross-examination. any of the law -- do any of the walls currently on the books meet this criteria? -- any of the laws currently on the books that meet this meet this criteria? >> there have not been many constitutional challenges on this.
many have failed partly because they were very broad. the bigger picture is, courts are not the only leaders in protecting due process. judicially, there is very little that has ever been done about that and most of the challenges failed. there can be a higher, better standard that legislatures just on. >> president biden instructed the department of develop a model red flag law for the states. last time you were here, we discussed the fact that giffords blocked the drafting of the red flag law by the uniform commission because they insisted on their own extreme model.
i've concerned they will put out a law that is the same of giffords extreme model. can you tell us why that is so extreme? >> is a model that on one hand does not view the temporary deprivation of the right to arms as a significant harm, so its premise is unbalanced at how it ways things. -- it weighs things. what was going on in the uniform wall commission was to take into account both points of view. for example, one group was the international association of chiefs of police, which is very pro-gun control.
on the other hand, there is the national association which is definitely not absolute against gun control, but it's typically skeptical. we have both of those perspectives will lead to a more balanced, fair, and accurate process. there's agreement that this -- should not be taken away for public safety. there have to be recommendations that sometimes he states have it if people are improperly deprived. we want to get the states that have the highest possible level of accuracy. >> david chipman -- they nominated -- five nominated -- biden nominated shipman for the
president of the atf. could you give us some background on what happened with mr. chipman? >> sure, he was on the commission with me. i brought up the problem of we want to make sure we do not disarm innocent people even on a temporary basis because that creates danger for them. his response was people can biographical the guns and scare people away, but that is not an effective alternative. as another part of the discussion, i brought up the point of no not. of course no knocks are necessary in some situations, we want to have them use the when they are necessary and not just leave.
we seen a lot of situations where no knocks get carried out recklessly because the team has nothing better to do that day. as -- i guess as a -- we taught flea subject do their jobs all the time. that's with the fourth amendment of the constitution and business unit does that. those are the statutes we have -- of the constitution and the fifth amendment does that. those are the statutes that we have. >> thank you for telling the horrific story of your husband and thank you for using the pain and horror of that crime trying to protect others who might be victims of violent crime in the future. your husband was murdered in a done free zone.
you followed the law, you did not have your firearm and was not able to protect yourself or him. that is not uncommon. many of the mass murders we have seen have happened similarly in gun free zones. are you concerned that we will see the same with red black walls? -- read flag laws? and other potential victims of crime will be left vulnerable to violence? >> yes. of course there are people that can abuse the laws, different states: different things, but we are much have an option that is
the baker act. every state has a similar law to the baker act and they offer protections. i don't have $10,000 in my savings account to cover legal fees if someone flights me for some reason. it is scary that someone could lock on your door at 5 a.m. and say, hey, we are taking your guns, and we have no idea why. why, what is going on? and then i have no way left to protect myself. due process is so important and mental health experts should always be involved. that should be mandatory. mental health experts should always be involved in that do process. if someone is truly dangerous,
they need to be combined -- confined to a mental health facility. so you take subreddit -- someone sped away, there are still dangerous. that is how i see it. >> -- you take someone's gun away, they are still dangerous. that is how i see it. >> thank you. >> you protecting -- you have been protecting our people from the scourge of the violent. -- of the environment -- of the gun violence. in cranston police petitioned
for reg flag orders eight times in one city. it was city police used weapons and obtained an order to help a coworker who had madeis that exe island consistent with what you see around the country in terms of -- >> i think it is. we are seeing it used very judiciously. i think we are not seeing, you know, millions of these being done. in virginia, where i am very familiar, i think there is under 70 or so in the first year, so i think it is very consistent with what we are seeing around the country. california, the first couple of years, under 400 and such a big state, but they are important.
they are based on the risk of individuals, and that's why -- they are not used for lots of people across a wide spectrum. they are individual attempts to identify people who are at an elevated risk of violence, and i think that is why they are important, they are constitutional, and they are effective. >> those of us who have sat in a prosecutor's chair and have had to make the decisions that you had to make are familiar with a whole variety of legal procedures that help protect people from threats of violence, whether it is restraining orders, protective orders, they are particularly common in the domestic violence arena. in your view, are the protections involved in the red flag laws consistent with those for other types of safety orders
that law enforcement commonly obtains? >> yes, you are correct. the protection order follows a process similar to sexual assault or anti-harassment orders, meaning each state comes before a judicial officer. a family member cannot walk down the street and -- on their own, nor can law enforcement. they have to sign a petition, sign a -- of perjury, and then the court makes its determination if there is a reasonable cause [inaudible] the process has other civil protection orders an individual -- of the order has to be served, because the individual needs a chance to be able to come to court to have their own
witnesses, to tell the court they are either in favor of the order or would like to challenge that order. each phase and each step involves judicial oversight. >> in particular, ms. wyatt, do you think is a matter of good practice it would be advisable to have domestic violence victims or those who have a restraining order protecting them from another individual be advised when that individual, their assailant or the threat to them acquires or tries to acquire a weapon? a firearm specifically? >> yes. our unit specifically addresses not only protection orders, but also domestic violence protection orders. because it is so high when people are conditioning for
domestic violence protection orders, we enforce court orders where they are ordered to show their weapons. our state has a system set up to notify if someone attempts to purchase, or if we get notification from our state patrol and it goes to low goal -- local law enforcement. we have other local victim advocates reaching out that there has been attempted him purchase -- attempted purchase or [indiscernible] >> if i could ask one more question. i think it's human experience that powerful emotions can pass through human beings -- anger, rage, jealousy, and the decision-making during that period when you are in the grip
of a serious emotion can be compromised, and people act out in unfortunate ways in that moment and make decisions sometimes that have irrevocable consequences for the rest of their lives. given that aspect of human nature, is it conceivable that the subject of a restraining order, the person who is told they have to take a pause on having their firearm is actually the real beneficiary of that restraint. >> a simple response would be yes. >> yes, it seems that way. you lose access to your firearm for a week or two and you are spared a lifetime of guilt and remorse, and the horrible memory of having acted on something when you were in a fit of emotion. it seems that way to me, anyway.
thank you. >> thanks, senator whitehouse. i will call on senator lee. i will vote. if i am not back by the time he is finished with his questioning, he will call a brief recess. i will be back and then we can resume then. >> thanks, mr. chairman. i appreciate you accommodating me in that regard. the second amendment guarantees our right to keep and bear arms. it was a right that our founding fathers deemed fundamental, so much so that they added it to the text of the original constitution. it's not only the second amendment that is at stake when we talk about things like this. there's also the concept of due process. the fifth amendment's due process clause, of course, provides that no person shall be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law. that requirement is, of course, made applicable to the states through the 14th amendment.
you see, our freedom is not free whenever government acts. it does so inevitably at the expense of individual liberty. that's where government has to get its power. we need government, and just the same, we need government to respect the boundaries on its own authority. i certainly agree that we should take steps wherever possible to make sure that people who should not have guns don't have them. in particular, those who are legally prohibited from having them because they are adjudicated as mentally unfit to do so or have been convicted of a crime. these restrictions are consistent with our system of laws and they can be applied in a manner that does not offend our constitutional rights. i am very touched by your testimony, as i read through your written testimony. i couldn't help but notice that
as you are talking about difficult things and difficult circumstances in which you had to witness your own husband's murder, even while you had a firearm and had access to it, you chose to comply with the law. your assailant did not. i think you summarized it extremely well with just a few words. i obeyed that gun control law, my stocker did not. -- my stalker did not. i have not found a better sentence that recognizes the need to respect the second amendment, recognize you process, and the dilemma we face and that we have to take into account whenever we choose to enact laws. -- laws infringing upon those rights. it sounds to me like you would
likely agree with the proposition that it is not a cost free action for the government to take, that in the name of protecting people from the horrors of gun violence, government can also inflict violence. you care to elaborate on that, based on your experience? >> well, i think there are some laws that are created that have unintended consequences. i think some of these gun-control laws were created thinking that we are going to protect people, and unfortunately, it can make some people out there vulnerable so that they can't protect themselves and their loved ones. you know, i don't want to dangerous people to have access to guns, but you know what? i don't want them to have access to a vehicle or a knife or a baseball bat or pressure cooker.
if they are truly dangerous, of course i want everyone to have due process. i believe murderers deserve due process and victims as well. that's what's so great about our country. we do have due process and we do have a constitution. i don't want to live anywhere else. i love america and i love that about america. >> and yet it is sometimes suggested, even in the last few moments, that the worst that can happen if you take somebody's going away without due process, they have to go without it for a few days or for a couple of weeks. yet your circumstance would seem to suggest that that is not true, that that is not the full extent of the downside of that. there is more cost. sometimes, that cost is borne not just in an inconvenience, but in someone being left vulnerable. >> yeah, absolutely.
in my case, it would have compounded the problem. of course i was depressed. who wouldn't be. of course i had nightmares. who wouldn't after going through that? but to take away my human right of self-defense on top of all that would just be devastating for someone like me. >> sometimes people will argue, due process is great and everything, but with respect to the bad folks, we can't give them due process. isn't that the problem with due process itself? if we are going to respect due process, aren't we agreeing upfront that due process needs to be upfront? it's not due process if it's only after the fact, is that right? >> that's right. i understand it can be very scary. i get it. i get it. i am the victim of a violent crime.
like i said, if you truly believe someone is a danger, they should be confined to a mental facility, but they should have due process. that's why i support the baker act and similar laws that already exist across the nation. every state has a similar lot to that, because it includes due process. your legal fees are covered. they are not under red flag laws. i don't have $10,000 to cover legal fees. it can be very, very expensive. with the baker act and similar laws, mental health experts are involved. that's not always the case with red flag laws. i think that it's very important that mental health experts be involved in that due process. >> mr. copel, does lack of notice and due process -- sometimes it might go along with gun confiscation orders --
doesn't this have the potential to increase the risk of harm to law enforcement officers executing the orders and to those who are subject to those orders? >> sure. imagine a situation where officers, that's part of the order and the issue. maybe the guy is not really that dangerous, but a confiscation order is served by the police showing up at somebody's house at 5:00 in the morning. normally, a homeowner might think it's a burglary. they would have no idea that someone is coming to take his guns. there is also a broader problem in how it erodes the trust between law enforcement and the public. this was talked about in one of the connecticut studies that is quoted in my written testimony.
when you ask somebody who's guns are taken away and confiscated, police show up, never heard of anything going on against me, but now they are coming to take my guns -- some connecticut state police officers have reported, these are often the guys who think of themselves as the most pro-cop. they are the ones who are on the back the blue, on the side of law enforcement, understand it is a tough job, and all of a sudden, the guys they thought were their friends are there to take away their property. it's a complete surprise to the person, but may be a few weeks later, they go into court and they get their guns back. but in the meantime, it's been a humiliating process for the wrongly accused individual. law enforcement, who i have often represented in courts and elsewhere, are so dependent on the cooperation and goodwill of the public, and that's the
american model. we are not policing from above, like in some other less free countries. when these are done wrongfully, it really brings that relationship and bond between law enforcement. >> there are a number of us who have formed a bipartisan coalition, raising concerns in a related area of civil asset forfeiture where there are areas outside of firearms. we have raised concerns with law enforcement being able to take people's property first and ask questions later. to take first and provide some sort of process later. due process, of course, has a higher expectation than that. tell me what you think about the parallels between this and that.
in other words, if one is concerned about the potential for abuse and the actuality of abuse in the civil asset forfeiture arena, how could one not see something similar when it extends to the second amendment? >> it's a similar kind of situation. both have good intentions with trying to deal with a serious problem. crime and civil asset forfeiture, it exists in kind of a minor way, but got ramped up in a huge way in the 1970's and 1980's. drug abuse can be very harmful not only to an individual, but to society more broadly. the idea was well, we need these tools to fight the drug lords and all this. what happened is there are a lot of people whose property got taken who worked with colombian drug lords, it was widely abused and sadly, the courts, in their
view of what the minimum, what the constitution requires as a minimum for due process, it generally said that's fine. i would urge especially this committee, of all committees in the united states, which is charged with defending the constitution, that one of the reasons we often defer to legislative judgments is they presume, just often like chief justice marshall's, that the legislator itself -- legislature itself thought about constitutional rights. i think legislators can and should go above whatever minimal level the judiciary will enforce in terms of protecting the people's procedural rights. >> insofar as we are talking about due process and it's freestanding here, i think we have agreed that there is. certainly, a right does not lose
protection by becoming a hybrid right. in other words, if you have a freestanding independent due process right, you certainly don't see that, any justification for diluting that right merely because you have added the second amendment into the equation by the virtue of its involvement in the firearms arena. >> right. as a policy man, you would think due process would be stronger there. the analogy, as i am sure you know, in the supreme court's free exercise of religion jurisprudence, sometimes that free exercise of religion gets stronger protection when it is a hybrid in conjunction with some of the. >> -- some other right. >> right. i have never understood the hybrid rights doctrine beyond what you just described, that it does not get weaker when you compound one right with another. i would maintain that is no less true here and consistent with
>> we are back. we will be joined shortly by senator graham and senator cruz, and perhaps others. i will yield to senator graham when he arrives, but i have a few questions in the meantime. first, let me ask the panel, because i wasn't here, whether everyone got a chance to respond to the senator's questions. or if there's anything else you would like to say while we are waiting for others to come back. >> if available, i think it's important to make the case that in these situations -- we are
talking a lot about civil asset forfeiture. i am not an expert in that law at all, so i cannot claim to that. but i do know the due process protections in these laws are similar to other civil orders, especially domestic violence orders, but in some cases of civil commitment as well as in child endangerment situations, where there is an urgency to act. i don't know that the analogy is exactly perfect for civil asset forfeiture, because we are talking about danger to persons, so i think the analogy is a little different. when you think about due process protections that have been upheld, you can see the numerous other fields, the type of arrangement that is built here is available in other fields. i think we tried to build this with that in mind. one of the things you think
about, indiana's original law. that law has been upheld even without a hearing, a temporary hearing to begin with. indiana and connecticut were the first, and as we built the laws moving forward, we wanted to add that healing at the beginning so that no firearm was ever removed without a judge looking at least at the evidence. there's more protection here than some folks have looked at through this, and i think it's in line with what we have seen in long-standing domestic violence protection orders. >> as i mentioned, i will yield to senator graham whenever he is ready to go. >> thank you, mr. chairman. thank you very much very good hearing, i appreciate it. mr. copel, are you still with us?
we are trying to find a way on the front-end and backend to give adequate due process, but also address the problem. i think the indiana situation is a good one. your story made me think about, we want to make sure we are thinking this thing through and not going too far with it, but i have come to believe, mr. chairman, like you have, that state to have adopted these laws are probably on the right track. the cruise situation in parkland , 30 visits by the police, every warning sign known to mankind, and they were powerless. governor scott, working with the state house, passed a florida version of the red flag laws. indiana was one of the first ones to do this and the situation where the young man had the shotgun taken because of his mental health status, but
there was no implementation. that's something i'm sure we don't want to have happen again. so, mr. copel, when it comes time to write a grant program, let's say, incentivizing states to go down this road on the process run, you are advocating that there be a civil cause of action in case someone is accused wrongfully or maliciously, that they can have recourse against their accuser. is that right? >> yes. not a mistaken accusation, because everyone makes mistakes, including me, as we discussed earlier. but a knowing false deposition. >> that makes sense to me, if someone is trying to ruin your
life and accuse you of something you are not, you will have redressed. the ex parte nature of the hearing, the initial determination by the judge to act, what kind of standard would you suggest we create there? >> i would say start with the federal rules of civil procedure, which generally gives favor x partake decisions, but allow judges to issue orders ex parte on a set of facts and findings about necessity. particularly, why is the other person not here in court? why does this person have notes? for a person seeking a temporary restraining order, they can't give a good answer to that, and sometimes not. >> the preference would be, in my testimony so the judge could ask questions, what standard would you impose? >> the same as federal rules.
standard procedure 59. on which i am not an expert. >> no, but you have to pick a standard and that seems to be a good one to me. the time period between an initial determination at a full-blown hearing, what would you recommend? >> i suggest we talk to prosecutors, including some of the witnesses here, who have experience with this and see, what is a realistic time period ? on one hand, you want to be extra judicious, on the other hand, you need some time. >> based on the existing state laws, what do you think has done the best job of threading the needle and why, and which ones do you have the most concern about and why? >> vermont best overall, but connecticut has some good features in it too, with the request that law enforcement
investigate the situation on their own before filing a request for a petition. colorado, with its providing for its defense lawyers in this case , is a very strong model. it not only helps the individual, but it may function as a deterrent to the potential abuses. on the others, i would say massachusetts has some of the weakest standards for due process. once the person gets an in-person hearing and there is a confiscation order, it has the effect of being permanent, preventing a person from ever owning a gun again unless they come back into court and prove they are not a danger. i think the model in mr. horwitz organization, which terminates after an a series -- after a series of time is the best way
to go. >> ok. to sum it up here, basically, the most constitutionally sound way to do this would be not a federal law, but some grant program that would emphasize adequate and robust due process. is that fair to say? >> yes. i think the states and localities have resources to do this in a way that federal marshals and others do not have the manpower for, among other reasons. >> thank you. >> thank you. >> thanks, senator graham. senator cruz, did you have another question? >> sir, you are a gun owner yourself and i'm going to assume you are a law-abiding one. has colorado's law been tied to mass confiscation of firearms? >> first of all, i am definitely
a responsible gun owner, so thank you. from what we know of today, i am not a scholar or a lawyer, former attorney, we have not seen mass confiscations. one area where we could do an improvement, i was happy to hear that we had hit high marks and were a good role model. we need to ensure that there can be psa's, public safety announcements and education for additional responsible gun owners in colorado. >> are you familiar with instances where it has been used to retaliate against people or vindictively by family members or business associates against each other? >> i am not. >> and it's been about a year since colorado launched this, is that correct? >> that's correct.
>> non-withstanding that some counties have declared themselves to be second amendment sanctuaries, some sheriffs have announced plans to block the law from being used, i understand quite a few have reversed their opposition after seeing how the law is actually put into effect. is that correct? >> that is correct. no citations are listed in my written testimony. >> well, i thank you for coming here and talking about how it has saved veterans' lives, because they are at risk of suicide in this law obviously has worked effectively to protect them. mr. horwitz, mr. copel referred to your statute is one that seems to have been framed to meet the due process standards,
and is based on the best examples of laws throughout the country. he alluded to the resources necessary to implement such a law. what a law from congress that provided those resources and training encourage states to adopt the best kind of standards , as you have advocated? >> the federal government could do a lot to encourage the proper standing for these laws. i think we've seen -- kim white is the best example, of what her unit does, but where there is robust funding, you will see all sorts of services for getting these done, but also for the respondents and the petitioners. but what you don't see is outside of king county, the implementation is really different. what we are seeking is those federal resources to make sure that we have seen work in
washington and king county. suicide, from my testimony you know i care a lot about this -- some of the highest suicide rates are in rural counties, who are at least able to afford the types of training, the types of investments that other counties have done. i think as a suicide prevention tool, the federal government has a big role to play in combining that technical assistance, that training, and the resources to develop the process so things don't fall through the crack. there are also types of services that would make this thing really work. >> we have been talking about the protective orders, domestic violence protective orders. they impose restraints on constitutional rights, do they not? >> they do, but beyond a domestic violence restraining order. they can keep you from your bank
account, your kids, your home, and what we are talking about here is one slice of that. but based on the same standard. it's a very surgical type of tool here, and that's the point of this. i was glad to see mr. coble talking about ways we can agree on this, because i do think we can do that. we can make this you -- this tool safe use around the country, come to an agreement and make sure we are saving lives. >> i was encouraged as well, quite honestly, by his statement to that effect. i thank him for his testimony today, but also his candor in describing what he knows and what he doesn't know, because not all of us are expert on all the facets of brief laws.
but the restraints involved in liberty and domestic violence orders, they are called restraining orders because they restrict liberty. the civil commitment statutes, which takes away somebody's liberty -- there are all kinds of ways in which those fundamental liberties are impinged to keep society safe, and they establish procedures to do it so that those orders are fact-based and a burden of showing those facts put on the person who would seek to take away that liberty, or any other right. that basic concept is what we have here, and the idea that an order expires, if it is unchallenged or unverified within a period of time and a firearm has been returned, is source of protection, is it not? >> we believe at the end of the
order, the firearm should be returned. it should not be a complicated process. there are options to renew, but at the same burden of the original. at dozens -- and dozens of burdens should not shift. it should be beyond the petitioner to plead the elements of the statute. >> in a certain sense, we cannot only encourage states to adopt these kinds of statutes, but -- if we offer them incentives to do it in the form of grants and other supports. >> as senator cruz said, the states are the laboratories of democracy. there are different processes in different states, and i think you are starting to see a coalescing around some of the best practices there. hopefully, the federal funding can really improve that and make
that, continue to make that process. so we learned what the best practices are, we learned what really works, and we ended up developing a program that will save lives across the country. >> ms. wyatt, i asked you earlier about the importance of resources to your unit, and you have a very well staffed unit with experts, prosecutors, which has cost. can you talk about the value federal resources would have to help you implement the best practices of that unit? >> sure. in the context, we are a movement that has grown since january 2019. last year, we had 73 law
enforcement -- in six or seven families. so we found the need to educate the public and community, officials, therapists, medical providers, law enforcement throughout the whole stage, and federal authority as well. that would be the number one thing to get public education out. the second thing that i feel like it's critically important is to have funding for individuals who are implementing laws in their states or to be able to create more policies for law enforcement, salon enforcement understands how you serve these orders, which are similar to other orders.
law enforcement used to be this tangible, attainable task, so i think we need to bring players together so folks from the first office, system advocates can reach out to families and also guide their loved ones through the crisis. that's critically important. one area in our state that we lack is the need to have some money for individuals who need a behavioral health evaluation. funding is needed to be able to get them help, i think. that is pretty smart. >> i will yield to senator cruz. in case any has any final questions. >> i have a couple of questions.
let me start with mr. copel. since you testified two years ago, additional states have enacted red flag laws and multiple states have amended their laws. it seems that they have all amended them in the direction of providing less protection of due process, and less protection of second amendment rights. for example, california amended its law to allow a disgruntled coworker to initiate the process for confiscating a fellow coworkers firearm. do you think the trend is for these laws to get broader and broader, and less protective of fundamental rights? if so, why do you think this is happening? >> maybe it is the slippery slope that always happens on all kinds of laws. as people get it enacted and say look, look how narrow it is.
when it is they are, they start thinking of ways how to move it further and further. anyone who is concerned about someone else can come to a law enforcement officer, a peace officer, or states attorney and bring that forward problem forward, but just because you had a fight with a guy at work, you can't file a petition yourself against that individual and law enforcement is supposed to do its own independent investigation. it seems the best way to start off the process at the beginning , with a higher quality of information to give to the judge. >> thank you for that. i think that's a very good point. i am a strong believer in federalism. right now, 19 states and the district of columbia have red flag laws. there is not much quality evidence about their affected this -- effectiveness or lack
thereof, but some evidence has demonstrated they have a very high error rate. can you give some more color on what the evidence and the data shows about those laws? >> for a lot of folks, the rand corporation's continuing project on doing a meta-study of all the social studies on the gun issue has found some things particular with gun control to be effective , and their validation of this, none of the studies that exist so far meet our standards for data quality and persuasiveness, so there's nothing there from the brand pose the -- brand's point of view, but i don't know if there has been a statistically significant change
in crime and mass shootings, along with other crimes. a lot doesn't have to be proven to have a statistically significant effect to be beneficial. if you reduce homicide by half of a percent in a state, statisticians might not be able to see that and know there is a cause and effect, but that is still a beneficial thing to do. the suicide data is mixed. one study said suicides declined in indiana and was replaced -- a study in connecticut found suicide declined, but that's by other methods went up -- deaths by other methods went up. it's important to note that there are many other lethal
substitutes for firearms, such as hanging, that have high mortality rates as well. 10 or 20 of these confiscation orders that gets issued, one suicide was prevented, it is just a hypothetical extrapolation and it makes the mistake of saying that every form of self-harm was a suicide attempt. i teenage girl who cuts her arm isn't trying to commit suicide. she is indicating she has a serious problem, but the figure assumes that every form of self-harm is intentional suicide, which is not true. >> thank you. ma'am, in your opening testimony, you testified that red flag laws can have a chilling effect that can cause victims to fear losing their rights if they seek help by
talking with friends or family or psychologists. could you elaborate on that concern, please? >> sure. i think when people fear -- someone might be very, very, very depressed and still be concerned for their own safety, which i am sure chisholm people that doesn't make sense. but when people are concerned that they are going to lose their rights, they bottle up. it's best that these people be able to get mental health help, and if they feel intimidated or feel like they might lose their rights, it can have the opposite effect from what you want. >> advocates for red flag laws often focus on the benefits of
removing a firearm from a potentially dangerous person. there's no doubt as someone with serious mental illness or i'd did attempt to do real harm, that can be a very real benefit. they also diminish the harm of removing a firearm from someone who might be a victim of violence, for whom that firearm might be the difference between surviving a violent attack and not surviving a violent attack. do you agree with that? yeah -- i've got to tell you this. i've got to know a lot of victims. i have actually brought my friend amanda collins-johnson with me. she is sitting right behind me here. she was brutally raped on her college campus. it was, of course, a gun free zone and it was in the student parking garage.
she had her permit to carry, but because she was obeying that gun control law, she left her gun at home. she wasn't allowed to have it on campus. that's where a serial rapist found her on her way to her car in the student parking garage, and he brutally raped her right there in the garage. i have come to know a lot of other victims, and they all want the ability to protect themselves, but we also fear that some of our attackers are going to be released. people think that if you do a horrible, violent crime, you will be in prison forever. that's not true. murderers, horrible people that do violent things, they are let out of prison every day in this country, unfortunately. and that's very scary for us.
victims want to be able to protect themselves, but here's a scenario perhaps you have not thought of, which absolutely terrifies me. when my stalker, my husband's murderer is released one day, what would prevent him from taking out a red flag on me to purposefully disarm me so he can harm me? that's terrifying. that's just something to think about. >> well, thank you ms. collins-johnson, for being here and allowing your story to be told. and thank you for speaking on behalf of so many victims of violence. >> thank you. >> thank you, senator cruz. i am struck by the points of agreement as we come to the end of this hearing. perhaps unintentional, ms. goeser, your point about people
who have mental illness, perhaps being reluctant to talk to friends or professionals is exactly the point that senator durbin made. i don't know whether you recall, but he said, people should not be separated from firearms simply because they have a mental illness. it's dangerousness. it's risk. its potential harm to others. that murderer would have no basis, none, for going to a judge and saying, nikki go eser is dangerous, a risk to harm anyone. likewise, senator cruz and i are both federalists. i was a state attorney general
for way longer than i have been a united states senator. to enforce their own laws and indeed to make their own laws, and that is the whole purpose of our proposed red-flag statute -- not only to encourage states to make their own laws, but to make them better, so that when they do pass their own laws, more like connecticut than, say, one of the other states that we found less protective of constitutional rights. if they are going to be laboratories of democracy, better to elevate the results of those laboratories than let them muddle along and fail to protect the rights of american citizens.
so i think there is a lot here where we have common ground, as long as we don't become distracted. and i understand your point about gun-free zones, about permitting the most heinous kind of lawbreakers to go free and threaten others, we want to prevent that, but we are talking here about a more narrowly crafted law with a more narrow purpose, that can be surrounded by a kinds of protections relating to what has to be proved in the way of factual evidence, the standard that has to be met, not just probable cause, the protections for individuals. you could say that someone who is unable to afford an attorney
has to be provided with one. i am just thinking out loud, but my hope is that we can go forward and focus on the common ground. because if we want states to be the laboratories of democracy, we have to make them good laboratories, and protective of constitutional rights, rather than just allow them to go forward without that encouragement to adopt higher standards. you know, mr. koppel has been very frank on the issue of whether there have been authoritative studies. a lot of the evidence here is anecdotal and relies on common sense, that if somebody says, i am going to shoot people in parkland, i am going to kill students, and as senator graham
has said, the shooter effectively took out an ad in the newspaper and said, i am dangerous, that it makes sense to give the police, and they take his point about the police, which is in the connecticut statute, the authority to make their case, maybe screened by a prosecutor. it happens in the state of washington. we have heard that procedure described come up with all kinds of protections and ells and whistles, rather than allowing that shooter just go ahead. i am determined to seize that common ground and make the case that we can work together on these kinds of statute. so i am willing to hear from any of the witnesses that want to make any final remarks, or senator cruz, if he has anything.
mr. horwitz: i just want to thank the committee, mr. chairman, the ranking member, for giving this a fair undertaking. i really believe we can reach an agreement. i think it is important to save lives. i think we can protect due process, constitutional rights and save lives. for everybody on this panel, i think we want to come together. we want to save lives. i hope the members of the committee can hear what we have taken today, craft something that works and save lives. thank you for this time. i am deeply appreciative of being here today and for this very serious consideration. chairman blumenthal: thank you. thank you to all the witnesses. thanks to senator cruz and all the colleagues who appeared here. the record will remain open for one week, and anyone with questions can submit them. we appreciate you being here today. thank you, very much.