In Massachusetts, an Extreme Risk Protection Order (ERPO) is a civil order that temporarily prohibits the purchase and possession of firearms and ammunition by a person who poses a risk of causing bodily injury to self or others. Family or household members (including current or former spouses, persons currently or formerly residing in the same household, persons currently or formerly related by blood or marriage, persons with a child in common, persons currently or formerly in a substantive dating or engagement relationship) and the Firearm Owners Identification Card (FID) licensing authority in the respondent’s town may file an ERPO petition.
During normal business hours, a petition may be filed with the clerk’s office of the District Court or Boston Municipal Court. The court will schedule a hearing date that is within 10 days of the filing of the petition and order law enforcement to serve the respondent with a hearing notice. Upon receipt of the ERPO petition, the judge may issue an emergency ERPO that lasts for up to 10 days or until the ERPO hearing. An ERPO issued after a full hearing will remain in effect for up to one year.
During non-court hours, police may contact an on-call judge on behalf of themselves or another petitioner. An emergency ERPO issued during non-court hours will expire at the end of the next court day, unless the petitioner files an ERPO petition with the court before then.
In Massachusetts, residents must have an FID to legally purchase, possess, and transport most rifles, shotguns, and ammunition and a License to Carry (LTC) if they carry a firearm concealed. When the court issues a temporary or final ERPO, the respondent must surrender firearms, other weapons, ammunition, and any FID and LTC to law enforcement for the duration of the order.
Massachusetts’ ERPO law, like other Extreme Risk Protection Order laws, includes due process protections to ensure fairness. Due process protections in Massachusetts’ ERPO law include ex parte ERPOs issued by judicial officers; a post-deprivation hearing where the respondent is provided notice and an opportunity to participate; and the requirement of substantial and credible evidence to issue an ERPO.
Explore the following resources to learn more about Massachusetts’ ERPO law:
- Extreme Risk Protection Order Process in Massachusetts - ERPO and Emergency ERPO
- Extreme Risk Protection Order & Domestic Abuse Prevention Order: How do they differ?
- Massachusetts Court Resources
Background: Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker signed H.4670, An Act Relative to Firearms, in July 2018 following the school shooting in Parkland, FL.