Talking Points: SF1431 (Extreme Risk Protection Orders)
When a person is in crisis, loved ones and law enforcement are often the first to see warning signs, or “red flags.” Extreme Risk Protection Order (ERPO) laws will empower law enforcement to petition a judge for an order that temporarily removes guns from a high- risk situation. ERPOs will be issued based on objective evidence that an individual presents an immediate risk of self-harm or harm to others with firearms. By providing due process in the form of a court hearing, this bill strikes a balance between commitment to public safety and respect for individual constitutional rights.
Nearly 80% of gun deaths in Minnesota are suicides and the rate of gun suicide has increased 65% in Minnesota since the year 2000.1 In other states, red flag laws have proven effective in preventing gun suicides. The alternative—placing an at- risk individual on a 72-hour hold against their will—takes away all the person’s civil rights and does nothing to mitigate the risk after the period of confinement has ended.
Summary of the Bill
- Empowers law enforcement to petition a civil (not criminal) court for an Extreme Risk Protection Order to temporarily remove firearms from a person who represents a serious threat to themselves or others.
- Enables family members to get help for loved ones undergoing a crisis who show “red flags” by their behavior, but they must go through law enforcement to petition the court. False petitions are subject to prosecution.
- Two types of Extreme Risk Protection Orders:
–Emergency (ex parte) orders for up to two weeks only.
–Orders after a court hearing last for 6-24 months.
- Same due process protections as Minnesota’s current Domestic Violence Protection Order law.
Extreme Risk Protection Orders and Suicide Prevention
A study by Duke University showed how in one state, Connecticut, gun removals from high-risk people may have prevented up one suicide death for every 10-20 orders of protection. The study also showed that people in need of help were significantly more likely to accept it after their guns were temporarily removed.2
Extreme Risk Protection Orders and Mass Shootings
A study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine in August, 2019 suggests that “urgent” and ‘individualized” intervention can play a role in efforts to prevent mass shootings. Extreme Risk Protection Orders could have enabled law enforcement to intervene and remove guns from the shooters prior to these tragic incidents:
- Midland-Odessa, TX, shooting spree, 2019.
- El Paso, TX, Walmart shooting, 2019.
- Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, FL, 2018.
- Fort Lauderdale airport, FL, shooting, 2017.
Other States That Have Passed Red Flag Laws
17 states and the District of Columbia have passed Red Flag laws, including Connecticut (1999), Indiana (2005), California (2014), Washington (2016), Oregon (2017), Florida, Vermont, Maryland, Rhode Island, New Jersey, Delaware, Massachusetts, Illinois (2018), New York, Colorado, Nevada, Hawaii (2019). Many states passed these laws in the wake of a terrible mass shooting that may have been prevented by extreme risk protection orders. We urge our law makers not to wait until after such a tragedy to pass the Red Flag law in Minnesota.
1- Targeting Gun Deaths in Minnesota, Protect Minnesota, 2019.
2 – https://scholarship.law.duke.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=4830&context=lcp. Updated December, 2019