The Extreme Risk Protection Order and Violence Prevention Act of 2019 (S7, 116th Congress) would prevent individuals who were determined by a court to be a danger to themselves or others from accessing firearms and ammunition. This action would be enacted through an extreme risk protection order issued by a state or tribal court, and would both prohibit the individual from possessing firearms and require them to surrender any firearms they own to a local law enforcement agency. Law enforcement officers, relatives, or household members would be able to submit a petition for an extreme risk protection order by presenting a description of the facts necessitating the protection. The court would issue the order if it finds by “clear and convincing evidence” that the individual poses a significant danger. The order would be in effect for a maximum of twelve months, at the end of which the court could consider extending it.
The relevant evidence that the court could consider in evaluating a petition for an extreme risk protection order include the following: a recent threat or act of violence towards one’s self or others; evidence of a serious mental illness; a previous extreme risk protection order or violation of one; criminal history, particularly of domestic abuse or unlawful use of a firearm; substance or alcohol abuse; and testimony from family or household members.
To assess the mental health of the respondent, the court could order mental health and chemical dependency evaluations. Serious mental illness is defined as a mental disorder resulting in serious functional impairment, and substance or alcohol abuse fall under the category of mental illness called substance use disorder. There is some evidence that, while people with serious mental illnesses are rarely violent towards others, mental illness is strongly associated with an increased risk of suicide, which accounts for over half of firearms-related deaths in the US.