A bill to provide ERPOs or Extreme Risk Protection Orders passed the House on Monday by a 102-99 vote and now heads to the Senate for full consideration.
The ERPO legislation, also known as “red flag” legislation, was sponsored by Rep. Jennifer O’Mara (D-Delaware). The bill provides a mechanism for loved ones, family members, or law enforcement to ask a Judge to hold a hearing to temporarily disarm someone in crisis and to disrupt spontaneous acts of violence against themselves or others. O’Mara’s bill would outline the due process, requiring a hearing with evidence before a judge. The judge would then determine whether or not to issue the ERPO, which could last for up to one year. The person subject to the order would be able to demand a hearing to terminate the ERPO at any time, per House Bill 1018.
“I introduced this bill because I lost my dad to gun suicide, and I want to do what I can to ensure no other family has to go through the tragedy that mine went through,” O’Mara said. “As a 13-year-old kid, losing my dad to suicide fundamentally changed my life. I hid that story from others for a long time out of shame, because of the persistence of the mental health stigma. Addressing gun violence and mental health problems head on like this bill does can help ensure that another kid doesn’t have to grow up the way that I did.”
The House also passed legislation requiring background checks on all firearm purchases by a 109-92 vote.
It is unlikely that either bill would be adopted by the GOP-controlled State Senate.
Pennsylvania would be the 20th state in the Union to adopt so-called red flag laws.