Illinois becomes 13th state to enact extreme risk protection order law

Gov. Bruce Rauner (R) signed a bill earlier this week, making it the 13th state to enact what is known as an extreme risk protection order law.

What is extreme risk protection order?

Extreme risk protection orders authorize family members or law enforcement officials to petition the court to confiscate firearms from individuals deemed dangerous to themselves or others. Supporters of extreme risk protection orders say the orders can be used as a tool to prevent violence and save lives. Opponents say  such orders allow the revocation of an individual’s Second Amendment rights without due process.

HB 2354 passed the Illinois House of Representatives by an 80-32 vote on May 23, 2018, and the Illinois State Senate by a 43-11 vote on May 30, 2018.

Thirteen states—California, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington—have enacted laws authorizing courts to issue extreme risk protection orders. Of those states, one was controlled by a Republican trifecta when the law was adopted, and five were controlled by Democratic trifectas. Eight of these states adopted their law this year.

Arguments in favor

Supporters of extreme risk protection orders believe the orders can be used as a tool to prevent violence and save lives.

The Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence and the Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund are both 501(c)(3) organizations that describe their mission as to save lives and reduce gun violence. The Giffords Law Center described extreme risk protection orders as “lifesaving tools that can prevent gun tragedies before they occur” and argued that the laws were “being used to prevent mass shootings, suicides, terrorism, and other types of gun violence.” The Everytown For Gun Safety Support Fund wrote on their website, “When a person is in crisis, loved ones and law enforcement are often the first to see the warning signs. ERPO laws empower family members and law enforcement to petition for an order that temporarily removes guns from a dangerous situation and reduces the risk of suicide.”[1][3][4][5]

In response to arguments that extreme risk protection orders violate the right to due process, the Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund pointed to provisions in extreme risk protection order laws allowing individuals subject to the order to appear in court for a full legal hearing.[1][4] The Alliance for Gun Responsibility, a group which supported Initiative 1491, a 2016 ballot measure in Washington state on whether courts should be authorized to issue extreme risk protection orders, argued that extreme risk protection orders included “careful protections for due process and standards for evidence.”[6]

Arguments against

Opponents of extreme risk protection orders argue that they violate Second Amendment rights, that existing laws already provide ways to respond to situations addressed in ERPO legislation, and that ERPOs do not provide mechanisms to deal with underlying causes of danger or threat.

The National Rifle Association criticized Washington state’s 2016 ballot measure for allowing “persons who have no specific expertise, and who may be mistaken” to seek extreme risk protection orders. Regarding ex parte orders—orders issued immediately—the NRA said, “In that context, a person’s rights disappear merely on the say-so of someone else,” adding, “This law would be ripe for abuse by individuals that disagree with the Second Amendment, and the mere insinuation that gun ownership makes you a danger to yourself or others is offensive and insulting.”[7]

The website The Truth About Guns wrote, “Judges can issue an ERPO—the unconstitutional artist formerly known as a GRVO or Gun Violence Restraining Order — without any testimony from the accused. In other words, the accused is denied his or her Sixth Amendment protected rights.” The article additionally questioned if the effectiveness of extreme risk protection orders was “worth the loss of a Constitutionally protected civil right,” adding, “Not only does an ERPO do nothing to help suicidal or homicidal citizens — who can find other means to kill themselves or others — it disarms citizens who may face a lethal threat from a dangerously disaffected spouse, former spouse or family member, or a corrupt or crazy cop.”[8]

Status of legislation by state

The section below is current as of July 2018. If you know of any additional laws or legislation, please e-mail Ballotpedia’s Editor.

The table below displays a list of states that have introduced, considered, passed, or enacted extreme risk protection order legislation.

[hide]State Status Date of last action Trifecta status at the time of the bill’s passage
California Enacted law
AB 2888: Pending Senate action
2014
2018
Democratic
Connecticut Enacted law 1999 Divided government
Delaware HB 302: Enacted law
HB 222: Enacted law
2018 Democratic
Florida Enacted law 2018 Republican
Illinois Enacted law 2018 Divided government
Indiana Enacted law 2004 Divided government
Maryland Enacted law 2018 Divided government
Massachusetts Enacted law 2018 Divided government
New Jersey Enacted law 2018 Democratic
New York Passed lower chamber 2018 Divided government
Oregon Enacted law 2017 Democratic
Rhode Island Enacted law 2018 Democratic
Vermont Enacted law 2018 Divided government
Washington Enacted law 2016 Divided government
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