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Firearm Removal Laws

Domestic Violence Protection Orders (DVPOs) and Extreme Risk Protection Orders (ERPOs) include mechanisms to temporarily remove firearms from individuals at risk for suicide or violence against others. ERPOs were modeled off of DVPOs, and while DVPOs can include firearm removal mechanisms, ERPOs focus solely on access to firearms. Research shows that the stronger the DVPO protections, the clearer the life-saving benefits. While ERPOs are a newer policy, evidence suggests that when implemented effectively, these laws can save lives. All 50 states and DC have DVPOs, while 19 states and DC have an ERPO law.

Thematic photograph of law books and a balance.

Extreme Risk Protection Orders 

An ERPO is a civil order with due process protections issued by a court when someone is at risk of violence (including suicide and assault). Law enforcement, and, depending on the state’s ERPO law, others such as family or household members, may petition the court to temporarily restrict a person’s access to firearms when they are at elevated risk of harming themselves or others. 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.

  • A study of Connecticut’s ERPO-style law estimated that for every 10-20 firearm removals issued, one life was saved.1
  • Preliminary evaluations of ERPO-style laws suggest they are associated with reductions in firearm suicides2 and have been used when respondents threaten mass shootings.3, 4

When deciding whether to issue an ERPO, courts should consider evidence-based criteria, not a mental health diagnosis, and whether the risk of violence is imminent. The evidence a judge may consider when issuing an order for firearm removal varies among states. It generally includes, but is not limited to:

  • Recent acts or threats of violence towards self or others.
  • History of threatening or dangerous behavior.
  • History of, or current, risky alcohol or controlled substance use.
  • Recent violation of a domestic violence protective order.
  • Unlawful or reckless use, display, or brandishing of a firearm.
  • Cruelty to animals.

There are usually two types of ERPOs: 

  1. An ex parte, or temporary, ERPO that is available quickly, and usually occurs without the respondent.
  2. A final ERPO, which typically lasts up to one year and may only be issued after a notice of hearing at which the respondent has the opportunity to appear and be heard. Both temporary and final ERPOs are civil, not criminal, orders.

To learn more, visit https://americanhealth.jhu.edu/implementERPO

Domestic Violence Protection Orders

DVPOs are civil court orders to protect victims and survivors of domestic abuse, including dating partners. Federal law prohibits anyone subject to a DVPO issued after notice and hearing from purchasing or possessing firearms. 

  • DVPOs that require firearm removal are associated with a 12 percent reduction in intimate partner homicide.5
  • Research shows that the stronger the DVPO protections, the stronger the life-saving benefits. For example, the largest reductions in intimate partner homicide connected to DVPO firearm restrictions are those that extend to dating partners, temporary or emergency orders, and those that explicitly require defendants to surrender their firearms.

To learn more, visit the Educational Fund to Stop Gun Violence’s policy archived library on extreme risk protection orders and domestic violence and firearms and the Bloomberg American Health Initiative’s website, Implement ERPO.

“When someone is behaving dangerously and at risk of committing violence, ERPO and DVPO laws offer concrete tools for temporarily removing firearms to reduce the likelihood that volatile situations will become deadly. ERPOs and DVPOs are two examples of how we are using evidence to inform intervention and implementation strategies to improve the lives of families and communities throughout the country.”

—Shannon Frattaroli, PhD, MPH
Professor, Department of Health Policy and Management

Our Work

Extreme Risk Protection Orders were developed by the Consortium for Risk-Based Firearm Policy in 2013 after the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School. The Center has participated in advocacy efforts to pass ERPO in 17 states since 2014. Today, more than half of all Americans live in a state that has an ERPO, and this is the direct result of the work of our Center, the Consortium, and gun violence prevention advocates across the country. Center faculty and staff are among the founding members of the Consortium and continue to lead ERPO implementation efforts nationwide.

Select Journal Articles


  1.  Swanson JW, Norko MA, Lin, HJ, Alanis-Hirsch K, Frisman LK, Baranoski MV, ... & Bonnie RJ. (2017). Implementation and effectiveness of Connecticut’s risk-based gun removal law: Does it prevent suicides? Law & Contemporary Problems.
  2.  Kivisto AJ & Phalen PL. (2018). Effects of risk-based firearm seizure laws in Connecticut and Indiana on suicide rates, 1981–2015. Psychiatric Services.
  3.  Wintemute GJ, Pear VA, Schleimer JP, Pallin R, Sohl S, Kravitz-Wirtz N, et al. (2019). Extreme Risk Protection Orders Intended to Prevent Mass Shootings: A Case Series. Annals of Internal Medicine.
  4.  Frattaroli S, Omaki EC, Molocznik A, Allchin A, Hopkins R, Shanahan S, Levinson A. Extreme risk protection orders in King County, Washington: The epidemiology of dangerous behaviors and an intervention response. Injury Epidemiology, 2020;7(44). https://doi.org/10.1186/s40621-020-00270-1.
  5.  Zeoli AM, McCourt A, Buggs S, Frattaroli S, Lilley D, & Webster DW. (2018). Analysis of the strength of legal firearms restrictions for perpetrators of domestic violence and their associations with intimate partner homicide. American Journal of Epidemiology.