July 6, 2020 Blog
First Statewide Study of Extreme Risk Protection Orders in Washington
In 2016, nearly 80 percent of voters across Washington state approved Initiative 1491 to create Extreme Risk Protection Orders (ERPOs), which allow family members or law enforcement to temporarily secure firearms from an individual at risk of harming themselves or others.
Now, researchers at the Harborview Injury Prevention & Research Center, UW Medicine, and the Department of Epidemiology of the University of Washington School of Public health have conducted the first statewide study of ERPOs. The findings were published on June 30, 2020 in the Annals of Internal Medicine.
Between December 2016, when Washington’s ERPO law took effect, and May 2019, when researchers stopped collecting data, 237 ERPOs were filed across Washington state and more than 600 firearms were removed from individuals at risk.
Most respondents were White men and many had a history of domestic violence, criminal justice involvement, substance misuse, or suicidal ideation. The number of ERPOs filed showed an increasing trend over the 29-month study period, but about 40 percent of counties in Washington did not file any ERPOs. The vast majority of petitions were made by law enforcement, suggesting an opportunity for more public education about this lifesaving tool.
— Kristen Ellingboe is the Communications Manager for the Alliance for Gun Responsibility.