A Solid NO to Extreme Risk Protection Order’s ERPO = NO

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A Solid NO to Extreme Risk Protection Order's ERPO = NO

Buckeye, AZ –-(Ammoland.com)- The NRA, President Trump, Republican members of Congress, and commentators like Ben Shapiro are all advocating in favor of so-called Extreme Risk Protection Orders, or ERPO’s. Unfortunately, it’s a bad move that will hurt gun owners and Second Amendment rights.

The idea behind an ERPO is that if someone is acting crazy, a family member or police officer can file for one of these orders, and the dangerous person’s guns can be taken away from them.

That appears reasonable and rational at first glance, but thinking things through, the idea goes from warm and fuzzy to a whole bunch of cold and prickly.

The first problem with the ERPO idea is that it singles out gun ownership. No one likes to have a target drawn on their forehead, and that's exactly what an ERPO does to gun owners. It reinforces the mistaken notion that gun ownership is a problem in itself.

Let’s get something straight: Guns are not the problem.

Americans own hundreds of millions of guns, and only a miniscule fraction of one percent of those guns are ever used to harm anyone. Crime, violence, and suicide are not problems of tools; they are people problems. And while guns are tools that are readily usable and effective for crime, violence, and suicide, removing or prohibiting the tool does not curb the behavior, nor even effectively make the tool disappear.

The second problem with ERPO’s is that they skip right past due process and directly infringe on an enumerated right, often based on the say-so of a single individual.

The NRA at least draws their line here. They oppose ERPO laws that fail to provide at least some form of due process. Unfortunately they go on to set the bar for what they consider to be acceptable due process very low, leaving gun owners at undue risk, and holding the bag for costly and time-consuming remedies.

The third problem with ERPO's relates directly back to the first two. The ERPO is redundant. There is already a much better alternative available to family members and law enforcement in every state. If a person is demonstrating unstable behavior that poses a threat to themselves or others, that person can be taken into custody for a temporary evaluation period. In custody, they not only do not have access to guns, they are also kept away from cars, household chemicals, matches, and sharp objects. If needed, a mentally unstable person can be committed indefinitely for psychiatric care. The commitment option is drastic, and all concerned are reticent to employ it in anything other than the most dire of circumstances. It is in fact this reticence which keeps these laws from being widely abused, because the laws themselves are generally written very broadly with little consideration for due process. But because judges take the issue of incarcerating a person against their will, very seriously, they are generally very cautious about employing this drastic measure.

The same cannot be said about judges’ attitudes towards the right to arms. The Second Amendment has never been accorded the same respect and consideration by the courts that are given to other fundamental rights. Most judges would put less weight on suspending a person's Second Amendment rights than suspending their drivers license.

Guns are being used as a scapegoat to avoid addressing the real problems with real solutions. Anyone who is a serious threat to himself needs treatment and close observation, not police demanding his firearms. If a person truly poses a serious threat to others, he needs to be isolated in a place where he can't hurt anyone, not have some of his property confiscated, then left to his own devices.

As recent celebrity suicides have demonstrated, guns are not a necessary tool for suicide. Neither are guns a necessary component of a terror attack. Taking guns from a dangerously insane person and yet leaving him free to drive a car or purchase bomb materials from the hardware store, is not a sound preventive strategy.

Extreme Risk Protection Orders do not call for the taking of car keys, kitchen knives, chainsaws, explosive chemicals, or other dangerous items… Only guns. But the authorities in most places don't know what guns a person might possess.

Anyone who has been through a contentious divorce or child custody battle, or has seen someone close to them go through something like that, knows that restraining orders and orders of protection are handed out by judges like breath mints. Judges frequently take a “better safe than sorry,” position, even though these orders have no real effect on the behavior of truly dangerous people. And gun owners have already been singled out for extra oppression simply because they are gun owners. Again, the ERPO law doesn't take away vehicles, knives, or matches… Only guns.

Taking guns away from someone who appears to be mentally unstable and dangerous, seems like a good idea. Why would such a person have them in the first place? But when you really examine the issue, it makes no sense at all. If a person truly is mentally unstable and dangerous, why are they free on the streets? Why aren't they someplace safe where they can receive the help they need?

When you think about an ERPO, look beyond the seemingly easy solution, and think about what could go wrong and how the law can be abused or misapplied. H.L. Mencken said it best a long time ago: “For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong.” The ERPO idea is just such an answer.

Jeff Knox
Jeff Knox

About Jeff Knox:

Jeff Knox is a second-generation political activist and director of The Firearms Coalition. His father Neal Knox led many of the early gun rights battles for your right to keep and bear arms. Read Neal Knox – The Gun Rights War.

The Firearms Coalition is a loose-knit coalition of individual Second Amendment activists, clubs and civil rights organizations. Founded by Neal Knox in 1984, the organization provides support to grassroots activists in the form of education, analysis of current issues, and with a historical perspective of the gun rights movement. The Firearms Coalition has offices in Buckeye, Arizona and Manassas, VA. Visit: www.FirearmsCoalition.org.

  • 21 thoughts on “A Solid NO to Extreme Risk Protection Order’s ERPO = NO

    1. Police Invade New Jersey Veteran’s Home, Try to Confiscate Guns Without a Warrant!
      By: Teresa Mull
      https://www.gunpowdermagazine.com/police-invade-new-jersey-veterans-home-to-confiscate-guns/

      Two boys discussing what to do in a school shooting situation resulted in police invading one of the boy’s homes to confiscate his father’s guns, various sources report.

      “[Leonard Cottrell, Jr.], 40, said he was working at Wawa on June 14 when he got a call from his wife around 9:30 p.m. that two police officers from the New Jersey State Police’s Hamilton station were at the doorstep of his Millstone home,” nj.com reported.

      “The troopers, who patrol this sprawling Monmouth County township, were there, he said, because his 13-year-old son had made a comment at school about the Millstone Middle School’s security, and the officers wanted to confiscate Cottrell’s firearms as part of an investigation.”

      “No one from the state was going to take my firearms without due process,” said Cottrell, who was deployed to Iraq three times.

      “[Cottrell] said his wife allowed the officers to enter the home, and with her permission, they searched his son’s room — but they did not find any weapons, he said,” reported nj.com. “The officers, he said, didn’t have a warrant but still wanted to take his guns. Cottrell wouldn’t let them.”

      New Jersey State Police said troopers took action as part of “a possible school threat,” but “determined that Mr. Cottrell’s weapons did not need to be seized.”
      Cottrell agreed to keep his guns outside of his house until police finished their investigation; his son was forbidden from returning to school.

      “It is outrageous and unacceptable that a student’s concern for lax security at his school could result in an attempt to confiscate his parents’ own firearms,” said Scott L. Bach, executive director of the Association of New Jersey Rifle & Pistol Clubs and a member of the NRA board of directors.

      “In the Garden State, the usual approach is to confiscate first and ask questions later, and victims of this approach often don’t know their rights,” Bach said. “‎In this case, the victim pushed back and confiscation was avoided — but the circumstances surrounding the incident are outrageous. A student expressing concern over lack of security is not a reason to send police to the student’s home — but it might be a reason to send police to the school to keep students and teachers safe.”

      Bach says police use “intimidation tactics to bully citizens into voluntarily surrendering their firearms under the confusion and fear of an unexpected visit from law enforcement.” Gun owners, Bach says, “should always call counsel before consenting to a seizure of firearms.”

      “The terrible violation of Second Amendment rights this American hero has had to endure at the hands of law enforcement officers, whose job it is to keep us safe, not take away our ability to defend ourselves, is a disgrace and should serve as a wake-up call for all citizens of what will happen in every house across this country if we do not resolve to stand firm in fighting gun control,” said Dudley Brown, President of the National Association for Gun Rights.

    2. ERPO’s : 1. Violate due process
      2. If they represent a real need should have 30 day limits. If you can’t demonstrate that a person is a threat
      within that time they should get their weapons back. Persons taking out such an order should be required
      to post a $1,000 dollar bond if acting s a private citizen and $10,000 if acting for a government agency. If
      the accuser cannot prove his case within the thirty days the bond is forfeit to the accused.
      3. Accusers should also be required to pay accuseds’ court costs if the order is thrown out.
      4. Private persons seeking an ERPO must seek a protective order within the thirty day period or face
      charges for filing a false complaint. Still have not figured out how to penalize government agents/agencies.
      5. Government agencies holding weapons on ERPO’s that have been thrown out have 48 hours to return
      weapons and notify NICS to remove accused name from database. They are also responsible for all
      expenses.
      I’ve known people that need to be disarmed on the spot. I get it. But they still have rights that must be respected and zealously defended. It is part of their human dignity. Also, fail to protect their rights, your rights are compromised.

      1. Such actions DO NOT need to be law for ready made lists and abusive use. So we are in total disagreement.

        1. Your statement needs clarification. I do not like ERPO’s, but if fools insist on them I want to make them onerous for the fools.

          1. What you have described is a “Little Gitmos” in every jurisdiction across the USA. Are really for such a scenario in this nation? Capitulation and continued 2A ceding ground to satisfy whom and what exactly!? Commies and RINOs???

            1. That’s “Are you really for…” Besides there’s a much bigger operation at work. It’s not just about the 2A. it’s about the 1st, the 3rd and 4th. It’s about all of them. It’s about the attacks upon the President, the Constitution, the continued attacks upon conservatives nationwide. Whether their white, black or latino and even gay. Our beliefs, our personal safety is all at risk with these marxist subversives pushing violence and disruption in every conceivable way, day after day. Legislating ERPO/GRVO into law or standard practice is inherently dangerous. Who sets the criteria? Do you want the Commiecrat setting up these laws and/or criteria. TROs might be the basis for something like ERPO/GRVO which would makes them absolutely redundant and unnecessary. If a TRO is served it maybe sometime in certain cases to prevent access to rather than taking possession of personal property.

    3. An ERPO is nothing more than society saying that someone is mentally ill and that they do not want to do anything about. it. Decades ago we had laws that said if a police officer thought that someone was mentally ill, they could force that someone into a mandatory 3 day mental health evaluation. But the police abused the law and law suits followed, so Ronald Regan got rid of the law and closed the asylums that were treating them. Now there are few institutions to take the mentally ill, and as soon as they are stabilized, they are released. And let us be clear what “stabilized” means. It means as soon as their symptoms are masked, they are gotten rid of, with their underlying problem left untreated. So you kick down the door of a victim of an ERPO and steal his personal property, and then just walk away, leaving the guy to “stew”. Can you imagine the rage of a normal person having this done to them? Now imagine what is going through the mid of the alleged crazy person, and you should get scared. These ERPOs will cause more murder and mayhem than what they were designed to prevent.

      1. Odd thing is the 2A does NOT deny a citizen’s right to keep and bear arms based on a mental qualifucations,

        Not does the institutions that wave magic wands and pass out degrees to the pychologists and psychiatrists show that these people are mentally stable and free of mental defects?

        How are we to know that the ones handing out degrees for the students in these two fields are in fact themselves free from mental disorder(s)?

    4. The NRA is a Complete Failure. Oliver North you say…Maybe the Catalog will survive?
      Behold. THE NRA will now be known as THE COMPROMISE CLUB.
      All that is left is GOA.
      Lunatic Left is just that….CRAZY.

        1. No, sorry — he is an NRA realist. My renewal for NRA membership is due in two months. After being a member for 30+ years and a ertified instructor for 25+, I will not be renewing thisi time around. NRA no longer represents me. They are not committed to the principled preservation of my rights. I have been ashamed recently of how NRA seems to believe that they are authorized to compromise away portions of my rights in my name. I am a lifetime GOA member, and proud to be one.

    5. Dammmmmmmmmmmit!!!! God bless neal Knox and his boys. We need Jeff to take “whine letspeeinfear’s” job in the no real adversary’s hq. Ff s it is time to get him and his lapdog, Chris cox, out of office. They have supported almost every antigun law since I became a member. Why do they get paid to support that crap? Time to go. Seriously, how does the red herring ollie north get put? Jeff is the person that needs to be put in place of the exec president. We need a change to an org with teeth, no holds barred get our freedoms res th orde, including doing away with tv he unconstitutional 1934,1968 gca’s as well as getting the illegal machine gun ban, as well as all magazine and gun bans. 922 is unconstitutional as well. Taxing a right destroys that right and according to the us constitution our Godgiven human rights to defend ourselves our property and others, is sacrosanct. The justices that use their political beliefs vs what the constitution says, and those polls that violate the constitution and their oaths of office should be immediately impeached and tried for treason. Jeff, we need you in charge!!!!!

    6. Exactly, well said! There are weapons everywhere they can be fabricated quite quickly out of stuff in your garage. The person is the problem not the gun.

    7. Jeff: Finally, a voice of reason where facts overcome feelings and substance prevails over symbolism. Thanks for so eloquently articulating the view of our silent majority.

    8. I always wanted to go back to the good old days of the Salem Witch Trials, false accusations and being guilty until found innocent!

    9. @J Barnett: I’m with you. Jeff nailed it right.. on it’s head!!!!!!!!!! No more NRA or NSSF for me. There’s only GOA, SAF, NAGR and couple of others. This suggestion that went nationwide in GOP holdings by RINOs came from the mouths of Trump and NRA (who also advocated the bumpstock/trigger accessory bans). As for Trump, bad advice or not it was a MAJOR F’UP!!! As I’ve repeated here many times before.

    10. Thanks Jeff. I hope people can see this issue for what it really is: death by a thousand cuts. If the NRA and republican majorities in Congress can’t get this right—then gun ranges and clubs should start taking GOA and FPC (USCCA, etc) memberships as a substitute for the required NRA card. Don’t want to get into RINO labels, but the same goes for Gov Scott John Cornyn—primary opponents—please see a Great opportunity!
      ERPO is as dangerous as the no fly argument. Let the (thousands of) current laws work!

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