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An Extreme Risk Protection Order (ERPO) is a court-issued civil order that empowers families and law enforcement to prevent gun tragedies by reducing access to guns for individuals at an elevated risk of endangering themselves or others. An ERPO temporarily prohibits the purchase and possession of firearms and requires the removal of any firearms currently possessed while the order is in effect.
Which States have Extreme Risk Protection Orders?
Only eight states have ERPO-style laws – California, Connecticut, Florida, Indiana, Maryland, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington. However, as of March 2018, 30 states are working towards passing ERPO-style legislation.
History of Extreme Risk Protection Orders
ERPO is a policy tool that was developed in 2013 by the Consortium for Risk-Based Firearm Policy and is based on Connecticut’s risk warrant law. Passed in 1999, Connecticut’s risk warrant grants law enforcement the clear legal authority to temporarily remove firearms from individuals when there is probable cause to believe they are at a significant risk of harm to self or others. ERPOs, on the other hand, allow law enforcement and family members to petition for such orders.
The first ERPO (known as a Gun Violence Restraining Order) was enacted into law after the deadly shooting on the University of California, Santa Barbara campus in 2014. The shooter had exhibited dangerous behaviors prior to the shooting, and his parents shared their concerns with his therapist who contacted law enforcement. The police briefly interviewed him but had no legal authority to intervene. Situations like this leave family members and law enforcement with limited options. An ERPO provides a legal process to prevent tragedies from occurring.
Research Supporting Efficacy of Extreme Risk Protection Orders
A recent analysis of Connecticut’s risk-warrant law by Dr. Jeffrey Swanson of Duke University, with a team of nine other researchers, adds to the evidence for risk-based firearms removal laws by demonstrating that such policies are promising and effective tools to save lives.
In the first 14 years of Connecticut’s risk-warrant law (1999-2013):
● 762 risk-warrants were issued, with increasing frequency after the 2007 Virginia Tech shooting.
● Police found firearms in 99% of cases.
● Police removed an average of seven guns per subject.
And notably, the researchers estimated that for every 10-20 risk warrants issued, one life was saved.