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05/30/2024 05:26 PM
Pennsylvania State Senate
https://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/Legis/CSM/showMemoPublic.cfm?chamber=S&SPick=20230&cosponId=37927
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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2023 - 2024 Regular Session

MEMORANDUM

Posted: December 1, 2022 11:02 AM
From: Senator Wayne D. Fontana
To: All Senate members
Subject: Extreme Risk Protection Order
 
The nation’s first Extreme Risk Protection Order (ERPO) Act, also referred to as a “red flag law,” was passed in 1999, in Connecticut, as a response to a mass shooting at the state’s lottery headquarters that left four people dead. More recently, ERPOs came to national prominence after a 2014 mass shooting in Isla Vista, California, where the perpetrator’s family had warned police about his intentions. This is not surprising since around 56 percent of mass shooters exhibit warning signs or concerning behaviors before their crimes according to Every Town, which conducts independent research on gun safety.
 
Unfortunately, mass shootings and suicides are a trend that aren’t going away and in fact becoming more frequent which is why I will once again be introducing my Senate Bill 134 from last session. This legislation would establish a system in our Commonwealth for the implementation of Extreme Risk Protection Orders. An ERPO grants family members and law enforcement the ability to petition a court to temporarily suspend an individual’s access to firearms if there is documented evidence that an individual is a threatening harm to themselves or others. The person subject to that order must surrender their guns to police and will not be able to buy, sell, or possess other firearms with a judge determining the time frame of this suspension not to exceed one year. 
 
ERPO are modeled after Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Protection Orders which gives due process and standards for evidence.  After a family member files a petition, the court holds a hearing and determines whether the person poses a serious threat of violence to themselves or others.  A judge can then issue an ERPO and can also refer the person in crisis for evaluation to ensure they get the help they need.  An order is put in place for not more than one year.  After the completion of the year, a hearing will take place to determine if the ERPO can be lifted or the order renewed should circumstances warrant.  The subject may request one hearing a year to rescind the order. 
 
Today, 19 states and Washington D.C. have ERPO laws. Furthermore, according to an ABC News-Washington Post poll from 2019, 86 percent of Americans across party and demographic lines support red flag laws. Perhaps it is because the intention of these types of laws isn’t to criminalize people. It is to keep gun away from those who have exhibited a risk of violent behavior.  
 
Last session, nearly all members of the Democratic caucus co-sponsored this legislation and I am hopeful to get even more members from both caucuses to sign on to this life-saving bill.
 



Introduced as SB204