Forms and information are available on Oregon’s Judicial Department’s Extreme Risk Protection Order website.
As of January 1, 2018, Oregon families finally have the right to protect their loved ones and themselves when a family member is in crisis. Extreme Risk Protection Order (ERPO) is a bipartisan act by Oregon state legislators to reduce Oregon’s high rate of firearm-suicide and the horrifying domestic violence in Oregon.
In July 2017, the Oregon legislature passed SB 719, Extreme Risk Protection Order (ERPO). ERPOs allow families and law enforcement to prevent tragedies by asking a court to temporarily suspend a person’s access to firearms. This action can only be taken if there is documented evidence that a person is threatening harm to self or others. The law ensures all parties receive due process.
What you can do to protect your family:
- Learn the warning signs of suicide.
- Share our ERPO Fact Sheet (below) with your family and friends.
- Use a firearm storage facility to keep firearms away from family members when they are in crisis.
- Share this message with your friends.
Oregon families have a right to protect their loved ones when help is needed.
ERPO Fact Sheet:
- What is an ERPO? Extreme Risk Protection Orders allow families and law enforcement to prevent tragedy by petitioning a court to temporarily suspend a person’s access to firearms if there is documented evidence that an individual is threatening harm to self or others. The person subject to that order must temporarily surrender their guns to police and will not be able to buy, sell, or possess other firearms temporarily.
- Why are ERPOs needed?
- EPRO is a policy tool developed by the Consortium for Risk-Based Firearm Policy in 2013. California enacted a similar law after the deadly shootings on the University of California, Santa Barbara campus in 2014.
- Often people who are thinking of killing themselves or harming others show warning signs. Oregon law now permits families and law enforcement to take action before it’s too late.
- In Oregon, where suicide is 83% of all gunshot deaths, temporarily removing access to guns is especially important to prevent suicide.
- Is this a gun confiscation law? NO.
- Gun lobbyists, far-right politicians, even some media outlets have incorrectly called this firearm safety law a “confiscation” law. These hysterical myths only serve to confuse the public and endanger families by spreading incorrect information.
- The law clearly states in Section 6(1)(a): “Within 24 hours surrender all deadly weapons in the respondent’s custody, control or possession to a law enforcement agency, a gun dealer or a third party who may lawfully possess the deadly weapons;”
- A person under an ERPO may transfer his/her firearms to a family member who, under the Oregon Firearm Safety Act (SB 941), may legally possess firearms, without a background check. If transferring the firearms to someone who is not a family member according to OFSA, a background check is required.
- The person may also give the firearms to the local law enforcement agency listed in the ERPO.
- The person may transfer the firearms to a federally licensed firearms dealer for sale or storage.
- Are the respondent’s rights protected? Yes.
- Oregon’s ERPO provides the respondent an opportunity for defense prior to a decision. Section 2(6)(a) of SB 719 states: “The court shall issue an extreme risk protection order if the court finds by clear and convincing evidence, based on the petition and supporting documentation and after considering a statement by the respondent, if provided, that the respondent presents a risk in the near future, including an imminent risk, of suicide or of causing physical injury to another person.” [Emphasis Ceasefire Oregon.]
- In addition, Section 2(5)(a) of SB 719 states that the burden of proof is on the petitioner, not the respondent. That means that the person who wants the ERPO must prove to a court that an ERPO is needed.
- Do people show warning signs before committing suicide or a mass shooting? Yes.
- Eighty percent of people considering suicide give signs of their intentions and 38 of the 62 mass shooters in the last 20 years were reported as displaying signs of dangerous mental health problems prior to the killings.
- In many of these shootings, people who knew the shooter observed these signs, but federal and state laws provided no clear legal process to restrict his or her access to guns, even temporarily.
- Family members of the shooters in two Seattle mass shooting, Café Racer and Jewish Federation, have spoken out about their anguish for the lack of tools for family members who see signs that their loved ones might do terrible harm.
- The Isla Vista shooter’s parents were so concerned about their son’s behavior before the shootings that they contacted his therapist, who alerted police. Although law enforcement interviewed him, the officers did not remove the shooter’s guns. That shooting led to California’s Gun Violence Restraining Order, AB 1014.
- Which states have similar laws? California passed a similar bill called a Gun Violence Restraining Order (GVRO) in 2014 after the Isla Vista mass shooting. Washington state voters passed Initiative 1491 in November 2016 by a 40 point margin (70% to 30%). Indiana and Connecticut also have versions of ERPO.
- Does an ERPO violate an individual’s Second Amendment rights? No.
- ERPO is a tool to empower families and law enforcement that is permissible under the Second Amendment.
- The Supreme Court noted in the 2008 Heller decision that the Second Amendment is not unlimited. The court designated categories of people, such as those with felony convictions and people who have been adjudicated as a “mental defective” or have been “committed to any mental institution,” that should be prohibited from possessing firearms. [D.C. v. Heller, 554 U.S. 570, 595, 128 S. Ct. 2783, 2799, 171 L. Ed. 2d 637 (2008)]
- Later court rulings in Connecticut and Indiana have upheld laws stating that allow states to restrict access to firearms by dangerous people if it is in the interest of public safety or an individual’s welfare. [Hope v. State, 163 Conn. App. 36, 133 A.3d 519 (2016); Redington v. State, 992 N.E.2d 823 (Ind. Ct. App. 2013)]
- Are ERPOs effective? Yes.
- “…we estimated that approximately 10 to 20 gun seizures were carried out for every 1 suicide averted.” Swanson, Jeffrey W. and Norko, Michael and Lin, Hsiu-Ju and Alanis-Hirsch, Kelly and Frisman, Linda and Baranoski, Madelon and Easter, Michele and Robertson, Allison G. and Swartz, Marvin and Bonnie, Richard J., Implementation and Effectiveness of Connecticut’s Risk-Based Gun Removal Law: Does it Prevent Suicides? (August 24, 2016). Law and Contemporary Problems, Forthcoming. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2828847
- Science-based evidence shows a reduction in domestic violence in states with laws restricting firearm possession by people at risk for committing domestic violence. According to an article published on September 19, 2017 in the Annal of Internal Medicine:“…state laws restricting firearm possession by persons deemed to be at risk for perpetrating intimate partner abuse may save lives. Laws requiring at-risk person to surrender firearms already in their possession were associated with lower IPH [intimate partner homicide] rates.”
Lack of ERPO has hurt Oregonians for decades. In 1995, in Scotts Mills, Oregon, Laura Whitson and her three children, Sarah, 6; Rachael, 3; and April, 6 months, were shot to death by David Whitson, Laura’s husband and the children’s father. David Whitson also injured Laura’s mother, Margaret Magee, who was holding April when the baby was shot to death. A Seattle lawyer who represented Mr. Whitson in divorce proceedings a year before the murders said, “I just was not shocked that the call came about him at all,” adding, “There was a potential for danger – for explosion.” An ERPO might have saved the lives of Laura Whitson and her three beautiful girls.
Families know first. ERPOs save lives.