Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum told OPB that the state does not have many statistics on the "red flag" law that took effect in 2017, but she said judges have told her that it's a "very effective law." Rosenblum said the Extreme Risk Protection Order is not widely used or even widely known about, but that it's a tool that's easy to use.
It allows a relative or household member, or a member of law enforcement, to ask a court to order guns removed from someone at risk of suicide, or of harming others. The order also suspends the person's concealed handgun license and prevents any further firearms purchases for one year.
Some Oregon sheriffs have said they’re against the red flag law and that they won’t enforce it.
“Oregon … does not require a law enforcement officer to obtain the order so … any person living in the household of the person they’re concerned about can request and obtain this order,” Rosenblum said.
But oftentimes sheriffs’ deputies and police officers are the first and only touchpoint with the judicial system, and the primary way people are made aware of their options. If law enforcement isn’t advocating for extreme risk protection orders, concerned family members or domestic violence victims may never know they’re an option.
Rosenblum said Oregon's ERPO passed on a bipartisan basis and that she'd like to see further measures to protect Oregon communities from gun violence.
“Our next move, I hope, will be to pass the bill for safe storage of guns,” Rosenblum said.
MAP: US States With 'Red Flag' Laws
A RAND Corporation study analyzing the efficacy of 13 different gun safety policies across the United States found that safe storage laws were the most effective at curbing suicide and accidental shootings. A number of studies suggest red flag laws are effective at reducing suicide, but their impact on mass shootings like those which occurred in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, remains unclear.
“When you hear about these horrendous incidents that could very well happen in our own state or have happened in our own state, we can’t look at this as a partisan issue,” Rosenblum said.
The Attorney General's hope for bipartisan legislation looks to be at a dead-end for now. Republican legislators walked out of the Oregon legislative session this spring partly over proposed gun safety legislation.