Extreme Risk Protection Orders

Extreme Risk Protection Orders

Extreme risk protection orders (ERPOS) can prevent individuals in crisis from possessing firearms

They reduce incidence of mass shootings and suicides

Extreme Risk Protection Orders (ERPO) laws are bi-partisan policy proposals which can be instrumental in preventing people who are a threat to themselves or others from possessing firearms. For North Carolina, this law could be highly effective in addressing situations of hate-related gun crimes, mass shootings, or suicides, potentially saving hundreds of lives.

How do ERPO laws work?

  • Seventeen states plus Washington, DC have enacted ERPO laws: Connecticut, Indiana, California, Washington, Oregon, Florida, Vermont, Maryland, Rhode Island, New Jersey, Delaware, Massachusetts, Illinois, New York, Colorado, Nevada, and Hawaii.[1]

  • Generally, a judge may only issue an order for removal of someone’s weapons after a full hearing in which testimony and other evidence is presented to determine if the individual presents a credible threat of harm to themselves or others.

  • Where the threat of harm is immediate, a judge may issue an order on an ex parte basis. “Ex parte” means the order for removal of weapons may be issued without prior notice to the individual.

  • If the order is issued ex parte, a full evidentiary hearing is required within a short period of time (usually less than three weeks after the ex parte order is issued) to determine if the behavior demonstrates a credible threat.

  • If, after a full evidentiary hearing, the threat is ruled NOT credible, no order is issued and the weapons remain in the individual’s possession. If an order was previously issued ex parte, the person’s weapons are returned.

  • If, after a full evidentiary hearing, the threat IS found to be credible, an order will be issued for removal of the weapons – often up to a year. If an order was previously issued ex parte, the person’s weapons will not be returned for the duration of the order – typically up to one year.

  • There are often harsh consequences – including court costs, attorney fees, and even criminal punishment – for anyone that misuses or abuses the ERPO process simply to harass or annoy an individual.

Why they are effective at reducing gun violence

  • The shooters in Parkland, Florida; and Isla Vista, California[2] had behaviors that would have set the ERPO process in motion if these laws were in place at that time.

  • A study revealed that 51% of mass shooters showed signs of distress which would have been actionable if ERPO laws were in place.[3] This legislation can prevent mass shooters from possessing weapons.

  • ERPO laws have proven effective at reducing suicides, which account for nearly two-thirds of gun deaths in NC.[4] For every 10-20 ERPO orders in Connecticut, one suicide has been prevented.[5]

  • After passing ERPOs, Indiana’s suicide rate dropped by 7.5%.[6]

  • Maryland’s 2019 ERPO law has been invoked in at least four cases involving “significant threats” against schools, according to the leaders of the Maryland Sheriffs’ Association. In just one year, the law potentially thwarted several acts of mass gun violence.[7]

[1] Coalition to Stop Gun Violence. The Extreme Risk Protection Act of 2019. http://bit.ly/2lO4z5g. July 2019.

[2] Giffords Law Center. Extreme Risk Protection Orders. https://lawcenter.giffords.org/gun-laws/policy-areas/who-can-have-a-gun/extreme-risk-protection-orders/

[3] Everytown for Gun Safety. Mass shootings in the United States: 2009-2017. https://every.tw/1XVAmcc. December 2018.

[4] North Carolina Injury Prevention Branch. Suicide in North Carolina, 2016. https://www.injuryfreenc.ncdhhs.gov/DataSurveillance/VDRS/NC-VDRSSuicideNorthCarolina2016-Oct2018.pdf. October 2018.

[5] Swanson, J. W., Norko, M. A., Lin, H. J., Alanis-Hirsch, K., Frisman, L. K., Baranoski, M. V., et al. (2017). Implementation and effectiveness of Connecticut’s risk-based gun removal law: Does it prevent suicides? Law and Contemporary Problems. 80(2), 101-128. https://scholarship.law.duke.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?referer=&httpsredir=1&article=4830&context=lcp

[6]  Kivisto, A. J., Phalen, P. L. (2018). Effects of Risk-Based Firearm Seizure Laws in Connecticut and Indiana on Suicide Rates, 1981–2015. Psychiatric Services. 69(8), 855-862. https://doi.org/10.1176/appi.ps.201700250

[7] Broadwater L. Sheriff: Maryland’s ‘red flag’ law prompted gun seizures after four ‘significant threats’ against schools. The Baltimore Sun. January 15, 2019. https://bit.ly/2Gdf6Qi.