An extreme risk protection order, commonly referred to as a red flag law, may be able to help you in time of crisis. More than a dozen states have statutes allowing judges to issue emergency protective orders to temporarily remove firearms from people in cases of acute risk for harm to themselves or others. They temporarily prohibit the person from possessing or purchasing firearms and ammunition.
As of August 2019, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Florida, Hawaii (effective January 1, 2020), Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Nevada (effective January 1, 2020), Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington have emergency protective orders or similar policies.
Both Indiana and Connecticut have had the policies in place for several years, and studies suggest that they’ve been successful in helping to reduce suicides in those states.
In most states, family, household members, and law enforcement can file a petition for an order to be issued. In some states, only law enforcement officials can file petitions; others allow mental health professionals to petition.
This article first appeared in the November 2019 issue of UC Berkeley Health After 50.