Understanding the Difference Between A Domestic Violence Protection Order (DVPO) and an Extreme Risk Protection Order (ERPO)

By The National Resource Center on Domestic Violence and Firearms 

Domestic Violence Protection Orders (DVPOs) and Extreme Risk Protection Orders (ERPOs) are types of injunctions, i.e., a court order that requires someone to do or not do something, issued by a civil court. Both can prohibit the person subject to the order from possessing or purchasing firearms or ammunition. However, DVPOs and ERPOs are not interchangeable, and there are a number of key distinctions between the two. 

What is a DVPO?

A domestic violence protection order (DVPO) is issued by a court to protect a survivor of family or intimate partner abuse/violence. A DVPO requires the person subject to the order (i.e., the person who has committed the abuse/violence, often called “the respondent”) to do, or not do, certain actions. DVPOs might also be called restraining orders, protection orders, or protection from abuse orders. DVPOs can protect the survivor in many ways, including: ordering the respondent from coming near the survivor or their home or workplace, from communicating with the survivor, providing for custody or visitation, provisions related to housing, express prohibitions against further harassment, threats, stalking or other abusive behaviors against the survivor and their children. DVPOs can also prohibit the respondent from accessing firearms or ammunition—that is possessing or purchasing firearms/ammunition–during the time the DVPO is in effect. All U.S. states and territories have laws providing for DVPOs. 

What is an ERPO? 

An extreme risk protection order (ERPO) is a court order that requires the person subject to the order (often called “the respondent”) to turn in firearms and ammunition in their possession. An ERPO can also prohibit the respondent from purchasing firearms and ammunition while the order is in effect. Depending on the jurisdiction, ERPOs may also be called “red flag” laws, gun violence restraining order, substantial risk order, lethal violence protective order.  As of March 2024, 21 U.S. states and Washington, D.C. have laws providing for ERPOs. 

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