Public Safety Advisory: DC’s “Red Flag” Law Helps Keep Communities Safe

Are you concerned that a friend or family member who owns a gun could be a danger to themselves or others? The Office of the Attorney General works to ensure District residents know what laws and resources exist to help keep them safe. Learn how the District’s “Red Flag” law can be used to remove a firearm from a potentially dangerous person.

In December 2018, the District adopted a “Red Flag” law to help keep DC and its residents safe by quickly removing guns from people who are considered a danger to themselves or others. This “Red Flag” law allows certain District residents to petition the DC Superior Court to issue Extreme Risk Protection Orders (ERPOs), which require the temporary removal of firearms and ammunition from potentially dangerous persons.

All petitions are referred to OAG for review and representation when appropriate. Individuals can also choose to retain private counsel or represent themselves. In each case, law enforcement works to ensure that the petitioner is safe, and in situations where individuals are concerned for their well-being, a temporary order can be filed to remove the gun before the gun-owner is aware that the petition was sought in the first place.

Who Can Seek an ERPO Against a Person Who Possesses a Gun in the District of Columbia

  • The person’s family members
  • The person’s guardian
  • The person’s domestic partner
  • The person’s romantic partner or someone they dated
  • Someone the person has a child with
  • The person’s roommates
  • Police Officers
  • Mental Health Professionals

How to Request an ERPO

  • Individuals can fill out a FREE form called a “petition” and file it with the D.C. Superior Court. The petition must include facts supporting the claim that the person in possession of firearms or ammunition is a danger to themselves or others.
  • The petition can be completed and filed online at: Domestic Violence - District of Columbia Courts Forms Help Online (
  • The petition can be completed and filed in person at:
    • D.C. Superior Court, 500 Indiana Avenue, NW, Room 4550, or
    • 2041 Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue, SE, Room 400, Washington, DC 20020. 
  • The requester can request a temporary order and speak to a judge within one business day even before the person with the gun knows about the case. The requester can speak to the judge remotely. The emergency order can last up to 14 days.
  • All petitions are referred to OAG which provides the court background information on the person with the gun. OAG may also intervene in appropriate cases to represent the requester or the public interest in court.
  • A court hearing for a final order will be scheduled within 14 business days. Before that hearing, the police have to provide the person with the gun the court paperwork notifying them of the case. 
  • At the hearing for the final order, both the requestor and person with the gun are given the chance to present their evidence to the court. The final order can be in effect up to one year and can be renewed.

Next Steps Once an ERPO is Granted

  • Police will contact the person who is the subject of the ERPO to retrieve any firearms and ammunition.
  • A search warrant can be issued, if necessary.
  • Anyone who peaceably surrenders any firearms or ammunition in response to an ERPO cannot be arrested or prosecuted for unlawfully possessing or carrying the firearms or ammunition.

A fact sheet on ERPOs is available here.

OAG’s Work to Stop Gun Violence

Public safety is OAG’s top priority. OAG uses every tool available to keep firearms out of the hands of dangerous individuals and to get illegal weapons off the streets. In addition to OAG’s work to seek ERPOs to remove firearms and ammunition from those who pose a danger to themselves or others, OAG defends the District’s common-sense gun laws—including prohibitions on large-capacity magazines and carrying firearms on public transportation—against legal challenges. Additionally, last year, OAG filed and won a first-of-its-kind lawsuit against ghost gun manufacturer Polymer80, which was selling kits that enabled individuals to build untraceable ghost guns in their homes. As a result of that lawsuit, Polymer80 was ordered to pay more than $4 million in penalties and to permanently stop selling its frames, receivers, and “Buy, Build, Shoot” kits to District consumers. OAG has also continued to expand its Cure the Streets program, a community-based, violence-reduction program that employs a public-health approach to disrupt cycles of violence. In 2022, the Cure program expanded from six to ten sites in District neighborhoods that have historically seen the highest rates of gun violence.