The Facts About ERPOs

Extreme risk protection orders (ERPOs), also known as red flag laws, are a tool to prevent firearm violence, including mass shootings, suicides, and fatal and nonfatal firearm assaults. These laws create a civil court process to petition a court to temporarily prevent someone at risk of harming themselves or others from purchasing or possessing firearms. In every state with an ERPO, law enforcement officers may file a petition. Depending on the state, family members, domestic partners, healthcare workers, and/or others may also be able to file an ERPO petition. As of 2023, twenty-one states and the District of Columbia have passed Extreme Risk Protection Order laws or similar legislation since 1999. 

Learn more about ERPOs in the one pagers below:

Why ERPOs Are Needed

When implemented well, ERPOs have shown to be life-saving measures across the country.

For every 10-20 ERPOs ordered, a life is saved.

  • On average, suicide attempts can happen within 10 minutes of the first thoughts of suicide, and firearm suicide attempts are the most fatal.
  • ERPOs restrict access to firearms and reduce the odds of a successful suicide attempt.

Other Gun Safety Interventions

ERPO laws, alongside other gun safety measures, help reduce firearm suicide, homicide, and unintentional firearm injury or death.

Safe Storage

Safe storage of firearms is the first step that family and household members can take to ensure that loved ones are safe. Regardless of if anyone in the household is in crisis, safe storage is essential for preventing accidental and intentional firearm injuries.

  • Family Guide to Home Firearm Safety
    • This resource includes information about firearm safety options in the home for families.
  • Parents’ Guide to Home Firearm Safety
    • This guide includes statistics about children’s access to firearms and ways to securely store firearms.
  • Project ChildSafe
    • Project ChildSafe provides information and resources related to gun safety, including gun storage guidance and free safety kits.
  • BulletPoints Project
    • The BulletPoints Project page on safe storage includes sources and information on multiple forms of safe storage, with videos, flyers, and descriptions.
Lethal Means Counseling

Lethal Means Counseling is when a trusted source, such as a doctor or mental health professional, checks whether a person at risk for suicide has access to a firearm, and works with them and their support system to limit their access. This can include safe storage practices at home or by storing the firearms outside the home, such as with a trusted loved one, at gun shops and shooting ranges, or with local law enforcement.

Firearm Background Checks

Background checks are utilized to ensure that a prospective firearm-purchaser is not legally prohibited from having a firearm. Expanding background checks from only licensed firearm dealers to all firearm sales could keep firearms out of the hands of those prohibited from having them, potentially reducing incidents of firearm-related intimate partner violence, community violence, and mass shootings. 

Other ERPO Informational Resources

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.