Last year’s “ERPO” bill was vetoed by Paul LePage, but a new bill, LD 1312, has just been introduced. Extreme Risk Protection Orders (ERPO) reduce gun-related suicides and domestic violence homicides by temporarily suspending access to firearms for people who are a danger to themselves or others. Submit testimony in support of the bill and contact your legislators and Gov. Mills!
Last year, in response to the Parkland school shooting, Maine legislators introduced LD 1884, an Extreme Risk Protection Order (ERPO) bill. The bill was vetoed by then-Gov. LePage, but now a new and improved LD 1312: An Act Regarding Access to Firearms by Extremely Dangerous and Suicidal Individuals has been introduced. Like the Parkland shooter, many of those who commit suicide or homicide with a gun exhibit signs of their intentions. Extreme Risk Protection Orders empower family members and law enforcement to act on these warning signs by authorizing judges to temporarily suspend an individual’s access to firearms when it has been proved that the person poses a danger of causing personal injury to themselves or another person. When a judge grants the protection order, the individual’s firearms are removed for 14 days. After a full-party hearing, the order can be extended for an additional 365 days if necessary. Unlike other states’ ERPO bills, LD 1312 provides counsel to the subjects of protection orders, so that they can challenge the merits of the petition at the full-party hearing and seek assistance in obtaining mental health services. It also requires family members filing a petition for a protective order to be explicitly informed that making false claims against an individual is a felony, punishable by up to 5 years in prison and $5,000 in fines.
Extreme Risk Protection Orders are primarily sought by family members seeking to prevent a suicide. While mass shootings and gun homicides command media attention, the majority of gun deaths in America (more than 21,000 a year) are firearms suicides. Maine’s suicide rate is higher than the national average, and is the second leading cause of death for individuals ages 15-34. About half of our state’s suicide deaths are committed with guns. The difference between suicide attempts made with guns and by other means is stark. 90% of people who attempt suicide by other means survive. By contrast, 90% of suicide attempts with a gun are fatal. Temporarily removing firearms from a person in crisis can prevent tragedies. Following Connecticut’s increased enforcement of its ERPO law, the law was associated with a 14% reduction in the state’s firearm suicide rate. A public hearing was held April 22 (read the testimony) but a work session has not yet been scheduled.
- You can still submit testimony in support of the bill electronically HERE or by email to the committee clerk at JUD@legislature.maine.gov. Please note that testimony submitted after the public hearing will be shared with committee members and become part of the public record, but will not appear on the Legislature’s website.
- Email your legislators and tell them you SUPPORT LD 1312 as written, especially if your legislators are among the bill sponsors or sit on the Committee on Judiciary. Find your legislators and their contact information, including email, HERE.
- Email and call Gov. Mills and tell her you SUPPORT LD 1312 as written. Phone: 207-287-3531 Email: https://www.maine.gov/governor/mills/contact