Barriers and Facilitators to the ERPO Filing Process

Barriers and Facilitators to the ERPO Filing Process

By: Alexandra de Leon Date: June 15th, 2022

Extreme risk protection orders (ERPOs) are tools for preventing suicide and other forms of violence; some states allow civilians to file ERPO petitions to remove firearms from someone expressing concerning behavior. New research led by the UW Harborview Injury Prevention & Research Center’s Firearm Injury and Policy Research Program examined barriers and facilitators to the civilian ERPO filing process in the state of Washington.

Researchers interviewed over a dozen ERPO civilian petitioners throughout the state of Washington. Barriers they reported included a lack of help connecting to social services and confusion regarding the filing and court process. Facilitators included having some familiarity with the court system or having legal experience.

“We spoke with many petitioners who felt ERPOs served their purpose, but they felt ERPOs didn’t address or assist in address the underlying cause of the behavioral disturbance,” says FIPRP associate director, Dr. Laura Prater.

The findings of this study highlight some of the challenges petitioners may face when going through the ERPO process. Suggestions for improving the process included having more educational resources, assistance from advocates to help guide the process and overall simplification of steps required to file an ERPO.

This study was supported by funds from the State of Washington and published last month in Psychiatric Services.

Authors on this publication represented the UW School of Medicine, Departments of Psychiatry and Behavioral Science and Pediatrics; UW School of School of Social Work; and UW School of Public Health, Department of Epidemiology.