Are you concerned about a friend or family member who owns a gun and could be a danger to themselves or others? Learn how the District’s “Red Flag Law” can be used to remove a firearm from a potentially dangerous individual.
How the Red Flag Law Works
In December 2018, a new law was passed in the District of Columbia to help keep the District 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 D.C. Superior Court to issue Extreme Risk Protection Orders (ERPOs), which requires the temporary removal of firearms and ammunition from potentially dangerous persons.
Who can seek an ERPO:
- Family Members
- Domestic Partners
- Romantic Partners or Dates
- Parent of a Child in Common
- Police Officers
- Mental Health Professionals
How to seek an ERPO:
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. File the petition in person at:
D.C. Superior Court
500 Indiana Ave. NW, Room 4510
Washington, DC 20001
United Medical Center
1328 Southern Ave. SE, Room 311
Washington, DC 20032
How the Court grants an ERPO:
The requester can see a judge within one business day even before the person knows about the case. If the court determines that the person poses a significant danger to themselves or another, it can issue a temporary ERPO taking away the person’s firearms and ammunition pending a full hearing.
The requester will then have to go back to court for another hearing within 14 days to get a one-year order. The court can only decide whether to issue a one-year order after the person it is filed against has been served by MPD with the petition and both parties have been given the chance to present their evidence to the court.
What happens if a Temporary 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. The police will also serve copies of the Petition on the person and a copy of the temporary order.
What happens if an ERPO is granted:
If the firearms and ammunition where not seized as a result of a Temporary ERPO, the police will seize them. This order can be in effect for up to one year and can be renewed. 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.
Reminder: Anyone can dispose of unwanted firearms or ammunition by delivering them to any police station unloaded, in a locked container, and separate from any ammunition or by requesting that a police officer retrieve them by calling 911. No one who surrenders a firearm or ammunition this way is required to furnish identification, photographs, or fingerprints and cannot be arrested for possession of an unregistered firearm or ammunition. For more information on how to turn in a firearm or ammunition, please call the Firearms Registration Branch at (202)727-4275.