Carbajal Introduces Federal Gun Safety Legislation

Red-Flag Law Helps Family Members and Police Prevent Gun Violence

Clockwise from top left: Kendall Pata of Moms Demand Action, Santa Barbara District Attorney Joyce Dudley, and Congressmember Salud Carbajal at Tuesday's virtual press conference | Credit: Courtesy

Congressmember Salud Carbajal introduced the Extreme Risk Protection Order Act of 2021 at a press conference on Tuesday alongside Kendall Pata of Moms Demand Action and Santa Barbara District Attorney Joyce Dudley. If passed, the bill would implement federal legislation allowing family members and law enforcement to exercise gun restaining measures to prevent potential gun violence.

Carbajal’s announcement came two days after the seventh anniversary of an Isla Vista killing spree that left seven people dead, four of them by gun, including the shooter. In response California passed an Extreme Risk Protection Order (ERPO) law in 2014. Since its passing, gun restraining orders have been requested 88 times in Congressional District 24 (77 for S.B. County and 11 for S.L.O.), Carbajal said. 

ERPO laws, also called red-flag laws, enable family members and law enforcement officials to petition a judge to temporarily remove firearms from an individual exhibiting concerning behavior. Currently, only 19 states have such laws in place. 

The ERPO Act of 2021 would implement extreme-risk laws nationwide and allow family members and law enforcement to intervene when an individual poses a threat to themselves or others. This includes allowing family members and law enforcement to request an ERPO to temporarily stop an individual from purchasing or possessing a firearm as well as guaranteeing the full use of existing state and local gun databases when processing a notice from a concerned family member. In doing so, the act ensures safety for communities while preserving due process for gun owners, Carbajal said.

“Gun violence is a deeply personal issue for me,” Carbajal told the audience on Tuesday, whose sister took her life with their father’s firearm. “I understand through my own experience that there can be warning signs before someone uses a gun to harm themselves or others,” he said. 

Pata, also a gun violence survivor, expressed her wholehearted support for the bill on behalf of Moms Demand Action, a national organization that promotes gun reform. “There’s no reason not to pass this legislation,” Pata said. “It’s beyond time that Congress acts.”

Currently, there is no federal law to prevent people who exhibit disturbing behavior from purchasing firearms. “You would have to wait for a violent act to happen before law enforcement could remove a firearm,” Carbajal said. “That makes no sense.”

Dudley echoed this sentiment and emphasized the importance of providing an incentive for states to adopt legislation, which the ERPO Act accomplishes through grant funding. 

“I urge all my colleagues, Republicans and Democrats, to back this law,” Carbajal said. And he is optimistic that they will. So far, the bill has received bipartisan support, notably from members of the NRA and former president Donald Trump.

And while pushback is inevitable, Carbajal is determined to see the act pass during the current congressional term. 

Carbajal ended the conference by repeating the words of Richard Martinez, the father of one of the students killed in the Isla Vista shooting. “It is time to start saving lives and make sure that not one more life is lost in our country.”


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