Bill to Protect Mental Health & Prevent Gun Violence Passes House, Heads to Senate

Pennsylvania state capitolCredit: Commonwealth Media Services

HARRISBURG, PA — Pennsylvania’s House of Representatives yesterday passed a critical piece of legislation, H.B. 1018, introduced by State Rep. Jennifer O’Mara (D-Delaware), which calls for the implementation of “red flag” laws.

Extreme Risk Protection Orders (ERPO), or “red flag,” laws temporarily disarm people in crisis to disrupt spontaneous acts of violence against themselves or others. O’Mara’s bill would outline the due process, requiring a hearing with evidence before a judge. The judge would then determine whether or not to issue the ERPO, which could last for up to one year. The person subject to the order would be able to demand a hearing to terminate the ERPO at any time, per H.B. 1018.

“I introduced this bill because I lost my dad to gun suicide, and I want to do what I can to ensure no other family has to go through the tragedy that mine went through,” O’Mara said. “As a 13-year-old kid, losing my dad to suicide fundamentally changed my life. I hid that story from others for a long time out of shame, because of the persistence of the mental health stigma. Addressing gun violence and mental health problems head on like this bill does can help ensure that another kid doesn’t have to grow up the way that I did.”

If H.B. 1018 passes the Senate and Gov. Josh Shapiro signs it into law, Pennsylvania would be the 20th state to enact a “red flag” law.

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