Maryland psychiatrists should be familiar with the new Extreme Risk Protective Order (ERPO) law in our state. This spring, the Maryland General Assembly passed HB 1302, sponsored by Delegate Valentino-Smith. The law gives family members, former co-habitants or partners, medical or mental health professionals, and law enforcement a tool to petition a court for the temporary removal of guns for an individual in crisis. It also allows a mental health professional who is threatened by a current or former patient to petition for an ERPO without violating privilege. In other states, ERPO laws have been effective in reducing gun homicides and suicides. The Maryland law became effective October 1.
ABOUT THE PROCESS
A concerned person files a petition through the court that includes:
- The number, types, and locations of any known firearms in possession of the person of concern
- Supporting documents or information that documents why the person of concern poses an immediate and present danger to him or herself or others (i.e., documentation of a threat of violence)
- The signature of the concerned person filing the petition
WHO CAN FILE A PETITION?
- Law enforcement officer
- Specified health professional (includes psychiatrists)
- Someone who lives with the person
- Someone related to the person by blood, marriage, or adoption
- A co-parent
- A current dating or intimate partner
- A current or former legal guardian
For forms, FAQs, resources and other specifics, please visit https://mdcourts.gov/district/ERPO.
Stay tuned – the MPS will share updates as we gain more experience with this new law and work on addressing its shortcomings.
Erik Roskes, M.D. , Anne Hanson, M.D. , Jeff Janofsky, M.D. and Paul Nestadt, M.D. contributed to this article.