Two-thirds of women killed by an intimate partner are killed with a firearm. Extreme risk protection orders (ERPOs) can be a vital part of safety planning for victims of domestic violence, especially when firearms are involved and firearm dispossession has not occurred under a domestic violence restraining order. These materials can be used by domestic violence advocates working with domestic violence survivors to help with safety planning.
Domestic violence and firearms by the numbers
- It is five times more likely that a female victim of domestic violence will die if her male abuser has access to firearms.
- One study found that nearly one third of mass shooters had a known history of domestic violence.
- Another study found that 59% of mass shootings involved killing an intimate partner or family member.
- One in thirteen background check denials is connected to domestic abuse.
A Domestic Violence Restraining Order (DVRO), whose name and scope varies by state, is a court order issued by a judge that can provide protection from an abusive intimate partner. Judges can prohibit that person from engaging in a number of actions, including having contact with the petitioner, entering the petitioner’s place of residence, and attempting to contact the petitioner. The order may also prevent them from purchasing or possessing firearms.
An Extreme Risk Protection Order (ERPO) is a court order that temporarily restricts an individual who is considered a threat to themselves or others (regardless of whether there is an intimate relationship) from possessing or obtaining firearms for the duration of the order, and requires them to temporarily relinquish any firearms that they possess at the time of the order.
DVROs and ERPOs are often both options in situations of domestic violence, especially when firearms are involved. An ERPO can serve as a supplement to a DVRO if the DVRO is issued without restrictions on firearm possession or if firearms are prohibited but the abuser did not relinquish them under the DVRO. ERPOs can be a useful tool to mitigate the lethal risks associated with firearm possession. It is important to consider both interventions and pursue the one(s) that will best protect the victimized partner. Look into your state’s protection order laws and reach out to an advocate for more information and advice.
This resource from WomensLaw.org provides information about state laws, including restraining orders, housing laws, and divorce.
These safety planning resources from WomensLaw.org are broken down into categories based on different considerations. Safety by location (school, court, etc.) and safety for those with children are covered.
This resource for domestic and sexual violence (DSV) advocates from Futures Without Violence includes tools for partnering with healthcare, integrating health services into domestic violence programs, and more.
If you are in immediate danger, please call 911.
If you are experiencing a crisis, please text or call 988.
The content of this website is not legal advice and is only intended for general informational purposes. If you need legal advice, please contact an attorney.