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High Risks TPOs, Life-savers or Freedom-busters?

Gun violence is a painful, recurring, costly, and high-profile social issue in the United States. In Nevada, where gun ownership rates are among the highest in the nation, it is very difficult to argue for restrictions on anyone’s second amendment rights. In 2017 the Nevada Legislature nearly passed legislation that provided for certain individuals to have their firearms temporarily seized upon the issuance of a “high risk protection order.” These orders may be filed by either relatives or law enforcement officers, and it would be a misdemeanor to file a false order or file one as a means of harassment.

These orders exist in other states, such as Connecticut and California. These laws exist to protect gun owners from harming others or themselves. Most suicides are with guns. Many people who attempt suicide fail and suffer horrific injuries, and prior suicide attempts increase the risk of suicide. SB 387, the proposal to establish this policy in Nevada, allowed close relatives, roommates, police officers, and persons with a child in common to file such an order to protect someone from using firearms to harm themselves or others.

This proposal represents an effective idea for preventing gun violence in places like Nevada, and the United States in general, where guns are very popular and gun rights are protected by strong laws and activist groups. Gun Violence Restraining Orders, as they are commonly known, do not ban an individual from having guns for the rest of their life like felony convictions can. SB 387 provided for emergency and extended orders that last for 14 or 21 days and 1 year, respectively.

Individuals subjected to these orders could become legal gun owners again if they took steps such as seeking treatment, acting responsibly, and following the law. While SB 387 didn’t pass in 2017, it could be reintroduced in the near future, and if passed, could be a major step toward moderate, effective gun policy in the United States.