MONTEREY PARK — On July 21, six months after the mass shooting in Star Dance Studio, Rep. Judy Chu (D-Pasadena) and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) introduced a bicameral legislative package to decrease gun violence in America — composed of Chu’s Language Access to Gun Violence Prevention Strategies Act and Gillibrand’s Fair Legal Access Grants (FLAG) Act.
Often, the perpetrators of mass shootings and dangerous crimes, including the shooter in Monterey Park, have a known past of threatening or even violent rhetoric or behavior. Individuals in crisis pose a higher risk to themselves and others if they have easy access to firearms.
Law enforcement, community members, and health care professionals can file a red flag petition, known as an extreme risk protection order (ERPO), to help get guns out of the hands of troubled or dangerous individuals. Research shows that at least two-thirds of mass shooters exhibit behaviors that elicit concern in family members, friends, neighbors, classmates, co-workers, or others.
Red flag laws have deterred at least 58 potential mass shootings and other types of gun violence in California alone, and nearly all states have now applied for grant funding provided by the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act of 2022 to implement red flag laws.
There are still gaps in ensuring all communities are made aware of how they can exercise gun safety tools available to them, like red flag laws and federal guidance on gun violence prevention. Additionally, the burdensome and lengthy legal process may deter people from seeing their petition through, allowing dangerous or troubled individuals to remain armed.
The Language Access to Gun Violence Prevention Strategies Act would ensure outreach about red flag laws, gun violence prevention, and gun safety by federal government agencies — including by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Department of Justice (DOJ), and Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) — includes robust in-language materials, outreach to limited English proficient (LEP) communities, and culturally competent education to community providers and law enforcement.
The FLAG Act would help keep communities safe by ensuring that any person filing a red flag petition has access to the legal representation, counsel, and resources needed to be heard and successfully file an ERPO.
“To keep guns out of the hands of those who are a clear danger to themselves or others and to protect communities across the country, everyone in America, no matter what language they speak, needs equal access to gun safety and prevention strategies,” said Chu, chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus and a former mayor of Monterey Park. “I am grateful for the opportunity to partner with Sen. Gillibrand to strengthen and expand access to red flag laws with proven effectiveness at decreasing gun deaths.
“The Language Access to Gun Violence Prevention Strategies Act and FLAG Act would assist family members and other community members in navigating the complicated legal system when seeking to temporarily disarm someone showing signs of violence. By ensuring more communities have in the tools to prevent gun violence, we will help honor the Americans we’ve lost in cities and towns across the country — including my hometown of Monterey Park.”
“Strengthening red flag laws across the country will help make our communities safer – period,” said Gilllibrand. “All too often, school administrators, law enforcement officers, and everyday people don’t have the time or support needed to navigate our court system and successfully file a red flag claim when they notice an individual with access to firearms exhibiting troubling or potentially dangerous behavior.
“My FLAG Act and the Language Access to Gun Violence Prevention Strategies Act would provide community members with vital tools and services needed to help remove guns from those looking to cause harm to themselves or others. We must ensure that all communities have equitable access to these important resources. So many of us want to perform our civic duty to help keep our communities safe, and I am proud to work with Rep. Chu to help ensure our voices are heard in the fight to end firearm tragedies.”
“Six months ago, the Monterey Park community tragically endured the deadliest mass shooting in Los Angeles County history, when 11 souls lost their lives, and nine others were injured,” said Los Angeles County Sheriff Robert Luna. “I want to thank Congresswoman Chu and Senator Gillibrand for their legislation that will help more residents in Los Angeles County and across the nation access extreme risk protection orders to reduce gun violence and make our communities safer.”
The Language Access to Gun Violence Prevention Strategies Act would:
• Provide for a competent, community reviewed, translations of all public facing resources provided by DOJ and HHS related to gun violence prevention strategies;
• Direct the attorney general to ensure federal grant applications for funds related to the creation and implementation of extreme risk protection orders and other prevention efforts incorporate meaningful engagement with communities with high numbers of individuals with LEP; and
• Direct the attorney general and secretary of HHS to develop and implement a national public awareness campaign for federally supported gun violence prevention strategies and firearm ownership safety with a focus on outreach and engagement with LEP communities.
The FLAG Act would provide $50 million in annual funding to states and local governments to provide access to legal counsel and other legal services. Eligible recipients include police departments, district attorney offices, community-based legal aid organizations, and more.
Both bills have been endorsed by March for Our Lives, Newtown Action Alliance, and Everytown for Gun Safety.
The Language Access to Gun Violence Prevention Strategies Act has also been endorsed by the Giffords Law Center to Gun Violence and the National Immigration Law Center.