Extreme Risk Laws Save Lives

Blog by Sister Judy Morris, OP

It was a beautiful, sunny Palm Sunday in Louisville.  Billie Jo and Brad Hettinger attended mass with their two children, five-year-old Collin, and four-year-old Courtney.  Collin was always ready to answer questions when the pastor asked for a response, most recently saying he was sad Jesus died, but happy that he loved him.

After greeting the pastor at the end of mass, the Heddingers drove home.  Soon after returning home, Brad pulled out a gun, walked upstairs, shot, and killed his wife.  He then shot and killed his two children.  After setting fire to the home, he put a gun to his head and took his life.  Families, friends, and parishioners were rocked by this unbelievable tragedy.

Billie Jo, Collin (5) and Courtney (4) were shot by their husband and father, Brad Hettinger, who suffered from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Brad Hettinger suffered from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.  After serving in the military as a decorated officer in the Iraq war he knew that he needed to get psychiatric help, but it was too late.

Every Town for Gun Safety continues to work for the adoption of Extreme Risk laws, sometimes referred to as “Red Flag” laws.  These laws empower loved ones or law enforcement to intervene in order to temporarily prevent someone in crisis from purchasing firearms or removing firearms from their possession.  This helps de-escalate emergency situations and is a proven way to intervene before gun violence, such as a murder/suicide or mass shooting.  Current law prohibits the sale of firearms to those convicted of certain crimes, or adjudicated as mentally ill, or involuntarily committed to a psychiatric hospital.

Currently, there are 17 states and Washington D.C. that have passed Extreme Risk laws.  Every Town for Gun Safety notes that Connecticut has seen a 14% reduction in firearm suicides.  This law is especially important since perpetrators of mass shootings often display warning signs of violence before committing violent acts.

Extreme Violence Risk laws are common-sense efforts to reduce gun violence, mass shootings, and suicides.  Responsible action to curb gun violence has worked in those 17 states that have passed Extreme Violence Risk laws.  Several state legislatures are now considering passing such laws.

Please contact your state representative and call for the passage of this vital Extreme Risk Law.  We can make a difference.

Posted in Peace & Justice Blog

2 responses to “Extreme Risk Laws Save Lives

  1. It was a sad story. I was in Louisville at that time. First, Post-traumatic Stress Disorder can cause so much harm and we need to tell the government to create programs and funds to help the veterans back to their normal lives with their families.

    Second, we need to work on gun management. Besides contacting our state representative and calling for the passage of this vital Extreme Risk Law, we can bring this awareness to the people via social media, such as Twitter, Facebook page, Instagram, etc. We can make a huge difference if everyone aware of it.

  2. Yes, I will make every effort to call my representative tor the passage of this Extreme Risk Law to be enacted for the sake of LIfE for All People. It is so important to know the background and risks of people who are psychologically ill and need help not to harm themselves and others. Thank you, Sr. Brigid

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