DOJ Creates New Center To Help Local Officials Apply ‘Red Flag’ Laws Against Certain Gun Owners

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The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced on Saturday the creation of a new entity to train state and local officials on procedures to apply “red flag” laws that temporarily prevent certain individuals from owning a firearm.

The National Extreme Risk Protection Order (ERPO) Resource Center is an entity created under the DOJ’s Office of Justice Programs (OJP) that will both educate and assist local officials when they initiate legal proceedings to obtain “red flag” orders that rescind an individual’s right to bear arms based on the belief that they pose a risk of harm to themselves or others, according to the DOJ’s press release. The individuals to be trained are “law enforcement officials, prosecutors, attorneys, judges, clinicians, victim service and social service providers, community organizations, and behavioral health professionals.”

“The launch of the National Extreme Risk Protection Order Resource Center will provide our partners across the country with valuable resources to keep firearms out of the hands of individuals who pose a threat to themselves or others,” Attorney General Merrick Garland said in the press release. “The establishment of the Center is the latest example of the Justice Department’s work to use every tool provided by the landmark Bipartisan Safer Communities Act to protect communities from gun violence.”

Red flag orders, or ERPOs, have previously been supported by gun control advocacy groups.

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“Gun violence is a complex issue that requires comprehensive solutions. Extreme risk laws are an evidence-based tool that can help prevent many forms of gun violence tragedies before they ever occur — suicide, interpersonal violence, and mass shootings alike,” Brady: United Against Gun Violence, a non-profit organization that advocates for gun control, wrote on its website.

ERPOs are issued by state courts in civil proceedings to prevent persons from purchasing or possessing firearms should they be deemed likely to use them to harm themselves or others, the press release explains. Twenty-one states along with Washington, D.C. have passed such laws.

“OJP’s investment in ERPO programs demonstrates the Department’s commitment to addressing the gun violence crisis in the United States,” Assistant Attorney General Amy Solomon wrote in the press release. “This crisis cannot be solved at one level of government. We must use all of our resources and collaborate at the federal, state, and local levels to find innovative, evidence-based, and holistic solutions to help keep American communities safe.”

Measures such as ERPOs have been opposed by conservative groups, who argue that they are abused to deprive individuals of rights under the U.S. Constitution’s Second Amendment, which establishes that “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

“So-called ‘Red Flag’ orders, or Emergency Risk Protection Orders, are designed to empower the government to confiscate Americans’ firearms without due process of law,” the National Rifle Association’s Institute for Legislative Action wrote in 2022. “Aside from allowing run-of-the-mill malicious actors to indulge personal grudges against law-abiding gun owners, in the current politically-charged environment, these laws enable the government to target those with First Amendment-protected political views the government disfavors.”

The NRA did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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