Our government has not taken enough action to keep lethal weapons out of the hands of people who are at demonstrated risk of harming themselves or others:

  • Over 2/3 of U.S. gun deaths each year are suicides – more than 65 every day;
  • Over 4.5 million American women alive today have been threatened by an abuser with a firearm;
  • Students are afraid to be in school due to the ever-present threat of a mass shooting.


Extreme Risk Protection Orders (ERPO, also known as “red flag laws”) are a legal tool that can be used to temporarily prevent individuals from accessing firearms if they are at heightened risk of harming themselves or others. Less than 1/2 of U.S. states have them in place, eight of which passed shortly after the 2018 mass shooting in Parkland, Florida.

Without ERPOs, family members and loved ones – often the first to notice warning signs that someone is at risk of harming themselves or others – are left with options that may have serious repercussions for the individual down the line, such as arrest or forced institutionalization.


  • While specifics may vary from state to state, a court has to determine that there is reasonable cause to believe that the individual is at significant risk of hurting themselves or others.
  • If reasonable cause is determined, the protection order is granted to temporarily transfer their firearm(s) and prevent them from purchasing new firearms for the duration of the order.
  • Extreme Risk Protection Orders generally last a maximum of one year, often shorter. When an ERPO expires, the person may regain access to their firearms, so long as they are able to pass a background check and are not otherwise prohibited from purchasing or possessing firearms.


  • States should take action to prevent access to firearms for individuals who present a recognizable risk of hurting themselves or others, including through establishing ERPOs.
  • It is vital that the government supports family members and law enforcement to intervene in situations where lives are on the line. These types of temporary measures could have a significant impact on reducing gun deaths in the U.S.


Firearm deaths in the U.S. caused by suicide in 2017


Suicide attempts using a firearm that end in death–far higher than other means


Does your state have an ERPO?

Remember: Correlations shouldn’t be drawn between gun violence and mental health. Persons with mental health conditions are not more likely to commit gun violence. In fact, research shows that less than 5% of lethal shootings between 2001 – 2010 were carried out by people with a diagnosed mental illness.