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Tuesday, April 16th, 2024

U.S. Justice Department launches National Extreme Risk Protection Order Resource Center to curb gun violence

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The U.S. Department of Justice recently launched a new resource center – the National Extreme Risk Protection Order (ERPO) – to offer training meant to ultimately keep guns away from extreme risk individuals.

Vice President Kamala Harris announced the new resource center at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida – the site of the worst school shooting in Florida’s history. In 2018, gunman Nikolas Cruz shot and killed 14 students and three faculty members there.

ERPO will provide both training and technical assistance for anyone responsible or affiliated with implementing laws meant to keep guns from those who may pose a threat to themselves or others. ERPO laws, or red flag laws, are often modeled off domestic violence protection orders. They offer a civil means for law enforcement, family members and medical professionals – state depending – to petition courts to temporarily prohibit people at risk of harming themselves or others from purchasing and possessing firearms.

“The launch of the National Extreme Risk Protection Order Resource Center will provide our partners across the country with valuable resources to keep firearms out of the hands of individuals who pose a threat to themselves or others,” Attorney General Merrick Garland said. “The establishment of the Center is the latest example of the Justice Department’s work to use every tool provided by the landmark Bipartisan Safer Communities Act to protect communities from gun violence.”

Gun violence has increased dramatically in the United States over the past few decades. According to the Gun Violence Archive, a nonprofit that tracks gun violence nationwide, guns have led to more than 167,000 deaths since 2014, trending upward most years since. While gun control advocates have pushed for an expansion of red flag laws for protection, gun rights advocates have opined that gun control measures risk infringing on Second Amendment rights.

To date, 21 states and the District of Columbia have enacted ERPO laws.

ERPO launched a website to supplement its efforts, through which states, local governments, law enforcement, prosecutors, attorneys, judges, clinicians, victim service providers and behavioral health and other social service providers will be able to access information related to reducing firearm homicides and suicides. The center will also use it to highlight emerging and promising practices of ERPO implementation, as well as to connect states and localities to related strategies.