Extreme Risk Protection Order Laws Promote Public Safety, Prevent Gun Violence, and Are Consistent with the Second Amendment.

Washington, D.C., September 7, 2022 — Today, Brady and Giffords submitted an amicus brief in support of D.C.'s extreme risk protection order (ERPO) law in Watson v. Wheeler. The brief demonstrates how the District’s so-called “red flag” law is consistent with the history of firearm restrictions in the U.S., including Supreme Court rulings. It also details how the reasons for the law are similar to the justifications used for other restrictions. A copy of the brief can be found here.

D.C.’s ERPO law was passed in December 2018 to temporarily remove guns from people who have demonstrated that they are a danger to themselves or others (or both). The law allows District residents to petition the D.C. Superior Court to temporarily remove firearms from a family member, domestic partner, dating partner, or roommate for up to one year at the discretion of a judge. Law enforcement officers and mental health professionals can also file a petition.

Brady Counsel Shira Feldman shared:

“D.C.’s ERPO law is an effective tool to prevent gun violence and save lives, and it is constitutional under the Supreme Court’s interpretation of the Second Amendment, which allows for reasonable restrictions that protect public safety. Even if we are to look at the latest Supreme Court decision in Bruen, which may pose new challenges to gun laws, the result is the same — D.C.’s ERPO law is in line with our country’s history and tradition of regulating firearms and is therefore constitutional. If anything, this law is more protective of due process for individuals identified as being a potential danger to themselves or others than other restrictions.”

About ERPO Laws:

Extreme risk laws allow a family member, law enforcement, or other key individuals to present evidence to a civil court judge that an individual is a risk to themselves or others (or both). The behavioral risk factors that are typically considered by a judge include patterns or recent threats and acts of violence, dangerous past behavior with guns, substance abuse, and recent firearms or ammunition acquisition. A judge may consider these and other factors when considering whether or not to intervene. The at-risk individual is provided an opportunity to be heard and present other evidence before the judge in a civil court hearing.

A recent poll by the AP found that 78% of US adults support extreme risk laws. These laws work. A study of Connecticut’s extreme risk law from 1999 to 2013 found that 99% of extreme risk protection orders resulted in the removal of at least one gun. Enforcing these extreme risk laws resulted in the legal removal of, on average, seven guns per individual. In 44% of cases, the extreme risk order led to the respondent receiving psychiatric treatment. Researchers estimated that one suicide was averted per every 10-20 extreme risk orders issued.

About Gun Violence in Washington, D.C.:

  • Each year, an average of 128 people are killed by gun violence in Washington, D.C.

  • Black people in Washington, D.C., are 28 times more likely to be victims of gun violence than white people.

  • Each year, an average of 9 people in Washington, D.C., take their own life with a firearm.

  • Each year, an average of 118 people in Washington, D.C., are victims of firearm homicides.

  • Since 2014, there have been at least 63 mass shootings in Washington, D.C.

Brady has one powerful mission — to unite all Americans against gun violence. We work across Congress, the courts, and our communities with over 90 grassroots chapters, bringing together young and old, red and blue, and every shade of color to find common ground in common sense. In the spirit of our namesakes Jim and Sarah Brady, we have fought for over 45 years to take action, not sides, and we will not stop until this epidemic ends. It’s in our hands.


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