6 Extreme Risk Protective Orders Issued In First 4 Months Of New Mass. 'Red Flag' Gun Law

In the first four months of a new state law allowing family members and roommates to petition courts to suspend gun ownership rights of someone they believe to be a danger, seven such petitions were filed and six were issued by judges.

Gov. Charlie Baker in July signed the law establishing an extreme risk protective order process that allows relatives and household members to ask a judge to suspend someone's gun license, a measure advocates pushed for after the deadly 2018 school shooting in Parkland, Florida.

The law also included a requirement that the court system issue an annual report on the use of extreme risk protective orders (ERPOs), including a race and gender breakdown of petitioners and respondents and information on whether any petitions were deemed fraudulent.

The first such report, recently filed with lawmakers, logged a total of seven petitions filed — one in August, four in September, and one each in October and November. None had been judicially determined to be fraudulent, the report said.

The Senate placed the report on file during its Monday morning session.

In six of the seven instances, an ERPO was issued at an emergency hearing. One emergency ERPO was extended.

The law allows courts to issue emergency ERPOs, which expire after 10 days, "without notice to the respondent and prior to the hearing required" in certain circumstances.

Under the law, petitioners must explain why the respondent "poses a risk of causing bodily injury to self or others by having in the respondent's control, ownership or possession a firearm, rifle, shotgun, machine gun, weapon or ammunition." The court must hold a hearing within 10 days of receiving the petition, and if the order is granted, issues an order requiring the respondent to immediately surrender their license to carry or firearm identification card, and all firearms, rifles, shotguns, machine guns, weapons or ammunition to local police.

Any petitioner who files for an ERPO with information they know to be materially false, or with an intent to harass a respondent, is subject to a fine between $2,500 and $5,000, up to two and a half years in jail, or both.

The report includes demographic data on the five petitioners and seven respondents involved in the ERPO process so far. Four petitioners were male and one was female; four petitioners were white and one's race was not reported or recorded.

Of the respondents, one was listed as Asian, two black or African-American, and the remaining four white. Six respondents were male and one was female.


In advocating for the bill last session, Rep. David Linsky said 2,287 people from Massachusetts were killed by gunfire in the last decade, and 55 percent of all gun deaths in Massachusetts during 2015 were suicides.

Baker said when he signed the law that it "creates a responsible way to help prevent gun deaths and suicides while protecting individuals' Second Amendment rights."



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