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In an apparent effort to fly under the radar, the Biden administration strategically launched a controversial gun control initiative that is receiving millions of taxpayer dollars on a Saturday instead of a weekday when it is more likely to receive news coverage and social media scrutiny. The program is called National Extreme Risk Protection Order (ERPO) Resource Center and it will train a broad range of the population—law enforcement officials, prosecutors, attorneys, judges, clinicians, social service providers, behavioral health professionals and community organizations—to help keep guns out of the hands of people who pose a threat to themselves or others. It will function under the Department of Justice (DOJ), which has dedicated millions of dollars to get it going. The investment demonstrates the DOJ’s commitment to addressing the gun violence crisis in the United States, according to an agency official quoted in the weekend announcement.

Biden Attorney General Merrick B. Garland claims the multi-million-dollar initiative will provide partners across the country with valuable resources to keep firearms out of the hands of individuals who pose a threat to themselves or others, a key phrase repeatedly used throughout program documents. “The establishment of the Center is the latest example of the Justice Department’s work to use every tool provided by the landmark Bipartisan Safer Communities Act to protect communities from gun violence,” Garland said. ERPO laws are modeled after domestic violence protection orders and create a civil process that allows police, family, medical professionals, and others to petition a court to temporarily prohibit someone at risk of harming themselves or others from purchasing and possessing firearms for the duration of the order. Assistant Attorney General Amy L. Solomon asserts that the nation’s gun “crisis” cannot be solved at one level of government and therefore there must be a collaboration of federal, state, local and holistic solutions to keep American communities safe.

Judicial Watch has filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request with the DOJ’s Office of Justice Programs (OJP) to uncover records involving the millions in ERPO grants that have been doled out by the agency, including solicitations, requests for proposals, contracts, memoranda, work plans, budgets, purchase orders, meeting minutes, audits and other correspondence. The American public deserves to know what, if any, politically connected entities received taxpayer money to conduct the mission of this questionable gun control program largely crafted in secret. Specifically, Judicial Watch is seeking records for three ERPO grants and the umbrella Biden administration endeavor known as Byrne State Crisis Intervention program that funds the creation and implementation of gun violence reduction initiatives in states around the nation and has distributed over $238 million in the last two years.

An ERPO program called Firearm Crisis Intervention Training and Technical Assistance Initiative has received the largest chunk of money, a total of three awards for $4 million, and Judicial Watch is seeking records that could shed more light on the award process and how the money is spent. The program claims to provide expert guidance, training, and technical assistance to state, local and tribal judges and courts in support of coordinated and effective state crisis intervention court proceedings and related gun violence reduction initiatives. A mystery “advisory committee” provides expertise on assessing and responding to individuals who may pose a risk to themselves or others with a firearm and develops training for court staff and judicial officers regarding firearms laws and best practice as they apply to individuals in crisis. The secret committee also develops and disseminates a “Judicial Toolkit” on firearms and crisis intervention, among other things.

The other two projects funded under the administration’s ERPO initiative and listed in Judicial Watch’s FOIA request are called Implementing Safer Communities Training and Technical Assistance and the John Hopkins ERPO Resource Center (ERC): Maximizing Impact Through Evidence, Equity, and Implementation, which have received $1 million and $2 million respectively. The first aims to advance data collection to help develop and administer tools to ascertain crisis intervention gaps and needs. The second is hub based at a private university in Maryland designed to support states and localities with the implementation of programs to reduce gun violence by providing research, technical assistance and other educational materials.

Author: Judicial Watch

Judicial Watch, Inc., a conservative, non-partisan educational foundation, promotes transparency, accountability and integrity in government, politics and the law. Through its educational endeavors, Judicial Watch advocates high standards of ethics and morality in our nation’s public life and seeks to ensure that political and judicial officials do not abuse the powers entrusted to them by the American people. Judicial Watch fulfills its educational mission through litigation, investigations, and public outreach. Visit Judicial Watch at https://www.judicialwatch.org/


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