Extreme Risk Laws are a ground-breaking new gun law with the potential to save many lives affected by gun violence. They provide family, intimate partners, and law enforcement a safe and effective way of removing access to firearms from individuals at risk of harming themselves or others. ERPOs are civil court orders that follow a similar process to obtaining a domestic violence restraining order. ERPOs sometimes go by different names, like Gun Violence Restraining Orders (GVROs), but all have the same goal: empowering members of the community to prevent gun violence that we know can be prevented, without threatening an individual's Second Amendment rights. Here are some typical myths propagated by the gun rights community, and the real truths behind these laws.
How Do Extreme Risk Laws Work?
A family member, law enforcement officer, and sometimes others like dating partners or house mates go before a judge with evidence of: a history or recent threats or acts of violence; dangerous past behavior with guns; substance abuse; or recent firearms or ammunition acquisition. These factors are considered when a judge issues an ERPO. The at-risk individual is allowed an opportunity to be heard and present other evidence before the judge in a civil (not criminal) hearing. If the judge finds that the evidence warrants temporarily removing guns from the individual, the judge issues an order known as an ERPO, which prevents the individual in crisis from purchasing a gun, and allowing law enforcement to temporarily hold their guns for safekeeping. At a subsequent hearing, the order can be extended given additional evidence that the individual in crisis continues to be a threat to themselves or others. The individual can again present evidence in their defense.
Where Are Extreme Risk Laws In Effect?
- Connecticut - 1999
- California - 2016
- Washington - 2016
- Oregon - 2017
- Florida - 2018
- Vermont - 2018
- Maryland - 2018
- New Jersey - 2018
- Delaware - 2018
- Illinois - 2018
- Massachusetts - 2018
- Rhode Island - 2018
California was the first state to allow a family member or intimate partner to directly petition the court to prevent an at-risk individual from purchasing firearms after its law went into effect in 2016. Connecticut's law, enacted in 1999, gives only law enforcement the ability to ask a court to remove firearms currently in a person's possession. Law enforcement, however can act on the behalf of family members. Washington's ERPO went into effect in 2016, and Oregon, the latest state to pass such a law, did so in 2017.
How To Take Action
The Brady Campaign currently supports three bills in Congress that focus on the implementation and enforcement of extreme risk laws. Call your Congressional members today and tell them to support the below bills! Want to find out if your elected officials already support extreme risk laws? Find out here!
S.1212 The Gun Violence Restraining Order Act
Incentivizes states to enable law enforcement and family members to intervene when they suspect a person may use a firearm for violent purposes, including self-harm, to help bridge a gap in existing law in many states.
H.R.2598 The Gun Violence Restraining Order Act of 2017
(House companion bill of S.1212)
S.2521 Extreme Risk Protection Order Act of 2018
A federal “extreme risk protection order” (ERPO) that allows a family member or law enforcement to petition a federal magistrate or court to temporarily prevent a person in crisis from owning, purchasing, possessing, or receiving firearms or ammunition. This includes temporarily removing firearms and ammunition that are already in possession.