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.
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:
- An ex parte, or temporary, ERPO that is available quickly, and usually occurs without the respondent.
- 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
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.
Videos, Handouts, and Other Resources
- Webinar: Extreme Risk Protection 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
- Policies that Work to Reduce Gun Violence: Extreme Risk Protection Order Laws
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.
- 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.
- Analysis of the Strength of Legal Firearms Restrictions for Perpetrators of Domestic Violence and Their Associations With Intimate Partner Homicide.
Zeoli AM, McCourt A, Buggs S, Frattaroli S, Lilley D, Webster DW. Am J Epidemiol. 2018 Nov 1;187(11):2365-2371.
- Removing Firearms From Those Prohibited From Possession by Domestic Violence Restraining Orders: A Survey and Analysis of State Laws.
Zeoli AM, Frattaroli S, Roskam K, Herrera AK. Trauma Violence Abuse. 2017 Jan 1:1524838017692384.
- Effects of policies designed to keep firearms from high-risk individuals.
Webster DW, Wintemute GJ. Annu Rev Public Health. 2015 Mar 18;36:21-37.
- Identifying armed respondents to domestic violence restraining orders and recovering their firearms: process evaluation of an initiative in California.
Wintemute GJ, Frattaroli S, Claire BE, Vittes KA, Webster DW. Am J Public Health. 2014 Feb;104(2):e113-8.
- Removing guns from batterers: findings from a pilot survey of domestic violence restraining order recipients in California.
Vittes KA, Webster DW, Frattaroli S, Claire BE, Wintemute GJ. Violence Against Women. 2013 May;19(5):602-16.
- Women with protective orders report failure to remove firearms from their abusive partners: results from an exploratory study.
Webster DW, Frattaroli S, Vernick JS, O'Sullivan C, Roehl J, Campbell JC. J Women’s Health (Larchmt). 2010 Jan;19(1):93-8.
- Risk factors for femicide within physically abusive intimate relationships: Results from a multi-site case control study.
Campbell JC, Webster D, Koziol-McLain J, Block C, Campbell D, Curry MA, Gary F, Glass N, McFarlane J, Sachs C, Sharps P, Ulrich Y, Wilt SA, Manganello J, Xu X, Schollenberger J, Frye V, Laughon K. Am J Public Health. 2003 Jul;93(7):1089-97.
- Use of extreme risk protection orders to reduce gun violence in Oregon.
Zeoli AM, Paruk J, Branas CC, Carter PM, Cunningham R, Heinze J, & Webster DW. (2021). Criminology & Public Policy, 20(2), 243-261. https://doi.org/10.1111/1745-9133.12544.
- Implementation and enforcement of restrictions on gun possession by domestic violence offenders in four U.S. localities.
Frattaroli S, Zeoli AM, Webster DW. Armed, Prohibited and Violent at Home: Journal of Family Violence, 2021;36:573-586.
- 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.
- Kivisto AJ & Phalen PL. (2018). Effects of risk-based firearm seizure laws in Connecticut and Indiana on suicide rates, 1981–2015. Psychiatric Services.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.