Today, Rep. Kelly Moller (DFL – Shoreview) and Sen. Ron Latz (DFL – St. Louis Park) officially introduced legislation to provide for Extreme Risk Protection Orders (ERPOs), an effective tool to prevent tragedies as a result of gun violence. The bill would allow members of law enforcement or a family member to petition a court for the temporary removal of an individual’s access to firearms if a court determines they may be a threat to themselves or others.
“We should all agree that when someone has demonstrated a danger to themselves or others, firearms should be removed from the situation. ERPOs are a proven method to allow proactive, preemptive action to save lives,” said Rep. Moller. “On average, we lose one Minnesotan per day due to suicide by gun, and Minnesotans should have this tool available to them when they recognize a loved one is in crisis. All Minnesotans deserve to be safe in their homes, in their workplaces, at school, and everywhere else in their communities. By enacting an ERPO law in Minnesota, I’m confident we will prevent senseless tragedies.”
“Extreme Risk Protection Orders would equip law enforcement, family members and courts with the necessary tools to step in before warning signs spiral into tragedies,” said Senator Latz. “Often, they are among those who first see or learn of a person in crisis. If law enforcement or family members find a person who poses a significant or immediate danger of bodily harm or death to themselves or other persons by possessing a firearm, a petition for relief – if approved by a judge with due process protections — would require that person to give up their guns while the order is in effect, and help prevent a senseless tragedy from occurring.”
The Minnesota House approved the legislation in 2019, however, Senate Republicans blocked it from becoming law.
In the 19 states which have adopted them, plus the District of Columbia, laws enabling ERPOs – also known as “red flag” laws – have demonstrated success in preventing community violence, mass shootings, suicide, and domestic violence. A 2019 study found 21 cases in which ERPOs were used to remove guns from individuals who had threatened mass shootings in California. In the first three months of Maryland’s ERPO law, firearms were successfully removed from four separate individuals who threatened mass shootings.
ERPOs are also an especially effective tool to prevent suicides. Nationwide, the success rate of suicide by gun is nearly 90%, extremely higher than other methods. In Minnesota, 79% of all firearm deaths are due to suicide. A study of Connecticut’s law estimates for every 10 to 20 guns removed via ERPO, one life is saved.
In the House, the bill will be referred to the Public Safety & Criminal Justice Reform Policy and Finance Committee. In the Senate, it has been referred to the Judiciary Committee. A copy of the legislation can be accessed here.