Extreme Risk Protection Orders May Help in Averting Shootings

Urgent individualized intervention may play role in efforts for prevention in analysis of cases in California

MONDAY, Aug. 19, 2019 (HealthDay News) -- The urgent individualized interventions to reduce firearm access, such as extreme risk protection orders (ERPOs), which provide a response when risk for imminent firearm violence is considered to be high, may play a role in preventing mass shootings, according to research published online Aug. 20 in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Noting that California enacted the first ERPO statute, which took effect in January 2016, Garen J. Wintemute, M.D., M.P.H., from University of California Davis School of Medicine in Sacramento, and colleagues examined the statute's implementation and effectiveness. Records from 159 cases occurring in 2016 to 2018 were identified; summary and individual histories were presented for 21 cases in which ERPOs were used to prevent mass shootings.

The researchers found that most of the individuals were male and non-Hispanic white, with a mean age of 35 years. Most of the individuals made explicit threats and owned firearms; 52 firearms were recovered. Four cases resulted primarily as a result of medical or mental health conditions; these conditions were observed in four additional cases. None of the threatened shootings had occurred as of early August 2019, and there were no other homicides or suicides by persons subject to the identified orders. There was no way to know whether violence would have occurred had the ERPOs not been issued.

"Further evaluation of the implementation and effectiveness of ERPO policies in California and other jurisdictions where they have been enacted would be helpful," the authors write.

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