COLUMBUS – State Rep. Allison Russo (D-Upper Arlington) today gave sponsor testimony before the Ohio House Government Oversight Committee on House Bill (HB) 257, to allow family members, household members, or law enforcement to petition the court for an extreme risk protection order that would, if issued, temporarily prevent imminently dangerous or distressed individuals from possessing or obtaining firearms.
“Most people think of mass shootings and homicide when they think about gun violence, but here in Ohio, suicide accounts for nearly two-thirds of all firearm deaths,” said Rep. Russo. “We know suicide is a preventable, impulsive, and often transient crisis. If we prevent those individuals in crisis from easily accessing the most lethal method of suicide–firearms–we can provide Ohioans with a second opportunity to live life.”
In Ohio, five people die by suicide every day, and one youth dies by suicide every 33 hours. Nearly half of Ohio’s 88 counties surpass the national rate of suicide, and many of Ohio’s counties with the highest rates of suicide are rural areas with limited access to behavior and mental health care services.
Already, 19 other states, including Florida and Indiana, have empowered law enforcement to request an ERPO, also known as “red flag laws,” to protect individuals in crisis. Studies analyzing the effect of ERPOs in these states have found a significant decrease in gun suicide deaths, proving the efficacy and sensibility of such measures.
Recent federal legislation, the bipartisan “Safer Communities Act,” provided for an additional $750 million in grant funds to be made available to states that implement ERPO systems. If HB 257 were to become law, Ohio would be able to access these funds to train law enforcement and better fund our judicial system.
The bill now awaits further hearings in the House Government Oversight Committee.