Press Releases

Chairman Nadler Statement for the Markup of H.R. 2377, the Federal Extreme Risk Protection Order Act of 2021

Washington, October 27, 2021

Washington, D.C. - Today, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) delivered the following opening statement, as prepared, during the markup of H.R. 2377, the Federal Extreme Risk Protection Order Act of 2021: 

"H.R. 2377 the 'Federal Extreme Risk Protection Order Act of 2021,' is an important measure to help address gun violence in America.  This bill authorizes federal courts to issue an extreme risk protection order—or ERPO—temporarily removing firearms from a person in crisis and preventing them from purchasing firearms after making a determination that there is evidence demonstrating that the person poses a significant danger of injuring himself, herself, or others.

"We know that Extreme Risk laws save lives.  We have witnessed their effectiveness in state after state, beginning in 2016 when California passed the first such law.  Since then, 18 other states and the District of Columbia have enacted similar laws.

"Our consideration of this federal mechanism today is an explicit acknowledgement that gun violence and mass shootings, unfortunately, have no bounds.  Every jurisdiction in this country has been touched by gun violence.

"This federal provision would ensure that law enforcement, as well as family members and household members of those who pose an immediate risk of harm to themselves or others, have consistent access to courts to seek ERPOs, and would enable continuity of enforcement of ERPOs across state lines.

"Federal courts have long been bastions of due process—and accordingly, this legislation includes strong due process provisions that strike the appropriate balance between protecting the rights of the gun owner and ensuring community safety.

"For example, the bill would allow an order to be issued pursuant to an ex parte proceeding, but only for a brief duration of 14 days.  In the proceeding, a neutral federal judge must determine whether there is probable cause to believe that the gun owner poses a risk of imminent personal injury to himself, herself, or another individual by purchasing, possessing, or receiving a firearm or ammunition, and that the ERPO is necessary to prevent the injury. 

"During that time, the court will determine, after a hearing that includes participation by the gun owner, who may be represented by counsel, if a long-term order—lasting up to 180 days—is appropriate under a clear and convincing evidence standard.

"The petitions for these orders require a signed affidavit, sworn to before the court, explaining in great detail why the petitioner believes that the gun owner poses a risk of imminent injury to himself, herself, or another person, by purchasing, possessing, or receiving a firearm or ammunition.

"If the court issues an extreme risk protection order, the gun owner would have to surrender their firearms and ammunition temporarily—for the duration of the order.  

"Also for the duration of an order, the fact of the gun possession and gun purchase prohibition would be placed in the NICS database used by the Brady Act background check system so that gun dealers would not be legally allowed to sell guns to someone subject to an order.

"This bill provides a sensible means by which an individual who is exhibiting dangerous behaviors can be prevented from possessing or purchasing firearms before tragedy strikes.  According to one study, over 50% of mass shooters exhibited some warning signs before the shooting.  The bill before us authorizes people who have serious concerns that someone they know poses an extreme risk to themselves or others to take the action needed to save lives.

"Today, this Committee has the opportunity to build on measures that the House has already passed, including H.R. 8, the Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2021.  

"It is critical that we enact all of these bills. Every day in America, on average, 34 people are murdered with a firearm, and more than 183 people are injured in an attack.  But while no other country in the industrialized world would tolerate such statistics—in fact, gun deaths in most of those countries barely crack triple digits annually—in the United States it is accepted as a grim reality.

"Every day that we do not act is another day that families will mourn the loss of a loved one.  Every day that we do not act is another day that our streets, our schools, and our houses of worship are less safe because dangerous weapons are in the hands of individuals who should not legally be permitted to possess them.

"H.R. 2377 would take meaningful steps to prevent gun violence tragedies in our communities, while at the same time protecting the due process rights of those individuals in crisis.

"I thank our colleague, Representative Lucy McBath, for championing this effort by introducing this bill, and I urge all of my colleagues to support this important legislation."