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Rep. Sweeney testifies on bill to allow Extreme Risk Protection Orders

Legislation would help stop preventable gun violence like mass shootings, suicides
November 10, 2020
Bride Rose Sweeney News

COLUMBUS – State Rep. Bride Rose Sweeney (D-Cleveland) today gave sponsor testimony before the Ohio House Health Committee on House Bill (HB) 316, to allow Extreme Risk Protection Orders, which keep Ohioans safe and support the work of law enforcement.

“More than 463 days ago, Ohioans called on us to do something after the tragic mass shooting in Dayton. Only three days later, I introduced HB 316 to help law enforcement manage individuals in crisis and ultimately save lives from preventable gun violence,” said Rep. Sweeney.

“This legislation respects due process by requiring clear and credible evidence that someone intends to do serious harm to others or themselves with a firearm. The bill would also enable law enforcement to act on warning signs like kill lists that often precede mass shootings. By kicking the can down the road on this for over a year, the Republican-controlled state legislature has made saving lives and listening to Ohioans less than a priority.”

Extreme Risk Protection Orders (ERPO), similar to other protection orders that already exist in the Ohio Revised Code, would allow law enforcement to temporarily keep firearms out of the hands of those who clearly and credibly wish to do harm to themselves or others. 17 other states, including Florida and Indiana, offer Extreme Risk Protection Orders as a tool for law enforcement to manage those in moments of extreme crisis. This legislation would:

  • Provide a mechanism for a law enforcement officer or household member to petition the court for an ERPO under oath with a clear and credible burden of proof;
  • Include in the petition, among other things:
    • an affidavit made under oath stating specific statements, actions, or facts that give reasonable fear that the individual under consideration may commit future dangerous acts;
    • an inventory of firearms and their locations; a list of any protection orders the individual under consideration is already subject to;
    • a list of any pending legal actions between the petitioner and the individual under consideration; and
    • a good faith effort to notify anyone at risk of violence that a petition for an ERPO has been made. 
  • Once the petition is filed, a hearing must be scheduled within 14 days of its filing.  In the case of an ex parte ERPO, a hearing must be scheduled within 3 days;
  • If issued, an ERPO gives law enforcement the legal authority to temporarily keep firearms out of the hands of unstable individuals who should not have access to them, particularly during a psychotic break or moment of extreme crisis;
  • The courts have clear guidance for the consideration of evidence when determining whether to issue an ERPO, and individuals under consideration may file a request for an ERPO’s termination.

While HB 316 had its first hearing today, Rep. Sweeney introduced the legislation only three days after a gunman opened fire in Dayton’s Oregon District, killing 9 people and wounding 27 others in 32 seconds. The bill now awaits further hearings in the House Health Committee.