Extreme Risk Protection Orders
Following the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida on June 27, 2018, Delaware enacted an Extreme Risk Protection Order (ERPO) law that enables individuals who are most likely to notice the warning signs of violence– family and household members and law enforcement officers– to petition a court to remove guns from a person in crisis. In Delaware, these orders are called Lethal Violence Protection Orders. If the court determines that the person (known as a “respondent”) poses a significant risk of harm to himself, herself, or others, it will issue an order prohibiting the respondent from purchasing or possessing guns for one year.1 An individual subject to an ERPO must relinquish his or her guns to law enforcement. Law enforcement officers may also petition for an emergency order, which only requires a finding by a preponderance of the evidence that there is an immediate and present danger.2 An emergency order lasts for fifteen days, and can be extended up to forty-five days.3 Read more about these types of laws on our policy page, Extreme Risk Protection Orders.
Persons Reported by Licensed Mental Health Practitioners
Under certain circumstances, licensed mental health practitioners are required to report to law enforcement about patients who explicitly threaten to cause serious harm to a person or property or the mental health practitioner otherwise concludes the patient is likely to do so. ((Del. Code Ann. tit. 16 § 5402.)) Upon receipt of the information, law enforcement shall use that information to determine whether there is probable cause that the patient is dangerous to him- or herself or others. If so, the law enforcement agency must seek a Lethal Violence Protection Order and refer the the report to the state Department of Justice.4
Domestic Violence and Firearms
Delaware also has laws requiring the surrender or removal of firearms from domestic violence abusers subject to protective orders who have become prohibited from possessing them. See the Delaware Domestic Violence & Firearms section for further information.