Oregon Governor Kate Brown signed a new gun bill into law Wednesday, making Oregon the third state in the U.S. to establish a process for obtaining so-called “Extreme Risk Protection Orders” (ERPO).
Under the new law – known as SB 719 – police or a member of a person’s family or household can file a petition with a civil court requesting an ERPO. If the judge finds the person in question to be an imminent risk to themselves or others, an ERPO will be issued and that person will be forced to surrender their firearms.
Police have the right to search the person’s home and seize any guns that were not surrendered or stored with a third party such as a gun dealer.
The person has 30 days after the ERPO is issued to request a hearing to keep their firearms. However, if the person is denied and the ERPO stands, then they will then be banned from possessing or buying any firearms or ammo for one year. Of course, these orders can also be extended or renewed.
Unsurprisingly, the bill was passed along party lines. Only one Republican voted in favor of the legislation.
Governor Brown, who herself is a Democrat, has said in the past that ERPOs are the “best way to ensure that a person who is at risk of harming themselves or others is identified, while still ensuring their rights are protected by a court review.”
When discussing an earlier bill, SB 868, which also sought to establish ERPOs, Brown said, “Persons in crisis should not have easy access to firearms. This bill is another tool in the fight against gun violence and suicide prevention that will make Oregon a safer place to live.”
However, critics of ERPOs have pointed out that the process is missing one very important step: a way for these people to receive help. In other words, the root of the problem is not addressed; if these people are really that much of a threat to themselves or others, it’s doubtful that taking away their guns is going to stop them from doing harm.
Those opposed to ERPOs have also raised concerns about the lack of due process.
“By allowing a law enforcement officer, family member, or household member to seek the ERPO, SB 719A would allow people who are not mental health professionals, who may be mistaken, and who may only have minimal contact with the respondent to file a petition with the court and testify on the respondent’s state of mind,” the NRA said in a statement after SB 719 was advanced by the state senate earlier this year.
Thankfully, the bill does offer punishment for those who file “fake” petitions; they can face up to one year in prison and/or have to pay a fine of up to $6,250.
But this minor check does not negate the fact Oregon could be stripping citizens of their Second Amendment rights without proper due process.
California was the first to pass such a law in 2014. Washington followed suit in 2016, and it’s unlikely Oregon will be the last down this path.