Extreme Risk Protection Orders
Many people who pose a high risk of harming themselves or someone else with a firearm can legally possess guns and would pass a background check required to purchase a new gun. State laws often do not provide a clear legal mechanism to restrict access to guns before a tragedy occurs, even when it is clear that an individual is at risk of causing harm to self or others.
An Extreme Risk Protection Order (ERPO) is a civil order with due process protections issued by a court when someone is at risk of violence to self or others. Depending on the state’s ERPO law, family members, dating partners, household members, law enforcement, health professionals, co-workers, and school administrators may petition the court to temporarily restrict a person’s access to firearms when he or she is behaving dangerously and at the risk of committing violence.
ERPOs grant law enforcement clear authority to temporarily remove firearms from ERPO respondents and prevent them from purchasing new guns for the duration of the order.
When deciding whether to issue an ERPO, courts consider dangerous behaviors (e.g., threats of violence, acts of violence) and whether the risk of violence is imminent. ERPOs are temporary (length of time varies among the states, but for no more than 5 years), do not result in a criminal record for the respondent, and usually include a two-stage process with the first stage allowing for short-term removal through an ex parte hearing in which the respondent is not present, followed by a court hearing with both the respondent and the petitioner during which the court decides whether to extend the ERPO issued as part of the first stage.
When an ERPO is terminated or expires, the respondent can request the return of their guns. Law enforcement will run a background check to make sure that the respondent is not prohibited from possessing firearms for any other reason and then return the firearms.
As of July 1, 2020 19 states and the District of Columbia have enacted Extreme Risk Protection Order laws to allow petitioners to ask the court to temporarily prevent a person who is at risk of violence (including suicide risk) from purchasing or possessing firearms.
“When I look at the landscape of gun violence prevention policy in this country and the possibilities for progress, I’m very hopeful[...] By bringing science to policy, we’re getting good laws that are making a difference in our communities every day and ERPO is a prime example of that.”
– Shannon Frattaroli, associate professor at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
Select Journal Articles
- Extreme risk protection orders in King County, Washington: The epidemiology of dangerous behaviors and an intervention response. Frattaroli S, Omaki EC, Molocznik A, Allchin A, Hopkins R, Shanahan S, Levinson A. Injury Epidemiology, 2020 July 22..
- Assessment of Extreme Risk Protection Order Use in California From 2016 to 2019. Pallin R, Schleimer JP, Pear VA, Wintemute GJ. JAMA Netw Open. 2020;3(6):e207735.
- Extreme risk protection orders intended to prevent mass shootings: A case series. Wintemute, G. J., Pear, V. A., Schleimer, J. P., Pallin, R., Sohl, S., Kravitz‐Wirtz, N., & Tomsich, E. A. Annals of Internal Medicine. 2019.
- Assessment of Physician Self-reported Knowledge and Use of Maryland’s Extreme Risk Protection Order Law. Frattaroli S, Hoops K, Irvin NA, McCourt A, Nestadt PS, Omaki E, Shields WC, Wilcox HC. JAMA Netw Open. 2019;2(12):e1918037.
- Maryland’s extreme risk protective order law: A survey of physician knowledge, use, and needs. Frattaroli S, Hoops K, Irvin NA, McCourt AD, Nestadt PS, Omaki EP, Shields WC, Wilcox HC. JAMA Network Open, 2019;2(12). E1918037.
- Guns, public health, and mental illness: an evidence-based approach for state policy: Consortium for Risk-Based Firearms Policy. 2013; 7–8, 22.
- Using research evidence to reframe the policy debate around mental illness and guns: process and recommendations. McGinty EE, Frattaroli S, Appelbaum PS, Bonnie RJ, Grilley A, Horwitz J, Swanson JW, Webster DW. American Journal of Public Health. 2014.
- Gun violence restraining orders: alternative or adjunct to mental health-based restrictions on firearms? Frattaroli S, McGinty EE, Barnhorst A, Greenberg S. Behavioral Sciences and the Law. 2015; 33: 290-307.
- Beyond the academic journal: unfreezing misconceptions about mental illness and gun violence through knowledge translation to decision makers. Horwitz J, Grilley A, Kennedy O. Behavioral Sciences and the Law. 2015; 33: 356-365.
- Circumstances and outcomes of a firearm seizure law: Marion County, Indiana, 2006–2013. Parker GF. Behavioral Sciences and the Law. 2015; 33: 308-322.
- The gun violence restraining order: an opportunity for common ground in the gun violence debate. Roskam K, Chaplin V. Developments in Mental Health Law. 2017; 36: 1.
- Implementation and effectiveness of Connecticut’s risk-rased gun removal law: does it prevent suicides? Law and Contemporary Pro. Swanson JW, Norko MA, Lin HJ, Alanis-Hirsch K, Frisman LK, Baranoski MV, Easter MM, Robertson AG, Swartz MS, Bonnie RJ (2017).
- Background checks for all gun buyers and gun violence restraining orders: state efforts to keep guns from high-risk persons. Vernick JS, Alcorn T, Horwitz J (2017). The Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics. 2017; 45: 98-102.
- Extreme risk protection orders - effective tools for keeping guns out of dangerous hands. Bonnie RJ, Swanson JW. Developments in Mental Health Law. 2018; 37: 2-6.
- Effects of risk-based firearm seizure laws in Connecticut and Indiana on suicide rates, 1981–2015. Kivisto AJ, Phalen PL. Psychiatric Services. 69: 855-862.
- Extreme risk protection orders to reduce firearm violence. Frizzell W, Chien J. Psychiatric Services. 2019; 70: 75-77.
- Elderly gun ownership and the wave of state red flag laws: an unintended consequence that could help many. Sklar T. The Elder Law Journal. 2019; 27: 100-115.
- Majority of Americans, Including Gun Owners, Support a Variety of Gun Policies
- Little Difference Between Gun Owners, Non-Owners on Key Gun Policies, Survey Finds
- Gun Violence Restraining Orders: Promising Strategy to Reduce Gun Violence in the U.S.
Videos, Handouts, and Other Resources
- Enabling Clinicians to Petition for ERPOs Can Save Patients' Lives
- Extreme Risk Protection Orders: New Recommendations for Policy and Implementation
- Webinar: Extreme Risk Projection Orders: New Recommendations for Policy and Implementation
- Extreme Risk Protection Orders: A Guide to the Process
- Extreme Risk Protection Orders: State Laws at a Glance
- Extreme Risk Protection Orders and Domestic Violence Restraining Orders: How Do They Differ?
- New ERPO Videos Highlight Insights from Washington State
- Five Ways the Federal Government Can Support State ERPO Laws
- Policies that Work to Reduce Gun Violence: Extreme Risk Protection Order Laws
Public-facing Education on ERPOs
In partnership with the Bloomberg American Health Initiative at the Bloomberg School of Public Health and the Educational Fund to Stop Gun Violence, the Center has helped launch a new Teach-Out on Extreme Risk Protection Order laws! ERPO: A Civic Approach to Gun Violence Teach-Out provides a unique opportunity to learn more about this evidence-based approach to reducing gun violence through scientific data and first-person accounts of those who are on the front lines using ERPOs as a tool to save lives.
What is a Teach-Out? Good question! Teach-Outs were pioneered by the University of Michigan in 2017 (learn more at Teach-Out.org). Like other online education offerings you may be familiar with (such as our Massive Open Online Course, Reducing Gun Violence in America: Evidence for Change) a Teach-Out is free, online, and open to the public, however, it’s shorter – only for a couple of weeks! – no quizzes or deadlines, focuses on one topic, and encourages interactive discussions and calls to action in your own community.
This Teach-Out is co-led by Shannon Frattaroli, PhD, MPH, associate professor and core faculty member in the center, Josh Horwitz, JD, executive director of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, and Katherine Hoops, MD, MPH, assistant professor and a pediatrician in pediatric critical care at the Johns Hopkins Hospital.
The learning event has ended, but the course materials are still available to you!