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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2019 - 2020 Regular Session


Posted: December 4, 2018 04:02 PM
From: Senator Wayne D. Fontana
To: All Senate members
Subject: Extreme Risk Protection Order
I intend to reintroduce legislation to establish a system in our Commonwealth for the implementation of Extreme Risk Protection Orders (ERPO). An Extreme Risk Protection Order 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.

Current laws barring gun ownership are limited. Generally, a person with a long history of mental health issues can still legally buy or possesses firearms if they don’t fall into specific statutory categories. With that being said, many times law enforcement have felt that their hands are tied when it comes to some circumstances.

By enacting ERPO in the commonwealth, our state will empower those who are closest to an individual and who are exhibiting dangerous behaviors by temporarily taking away their ability to have access to guns. Around 42 percent of mass shooters exhibit warning signs or concerning behaviors before their crimes. ERPOs will give families and law enforcement another tool to prevent a possible tragedy before it happens.

This legislation was Senate Bill 18 during the 2017-18 session and included Senators Street, Leach, Costa, Blake, Hughes, Dinniman and Schwank as co sponsors.

Introduced as SB293