Extreme risk protection orders


Key points
  • As of November 30, 2023, ERPO laws have been passed in a total of 21 states and the District of Columbia. Colorado implemented its ERPO law (HB19-1177) in 2019 and updated it in 2023 (SB23-170).
  • In 2020, there were 109 ERPO petitions filed in Colorado. 
  • Family members (rather than law enforcement) may remove and keep the firearms from the respondent. 
  • The passage of ERPO laws in Colorado was controversial. More than half of Colorado counties (37 out of 64) declared some form of 2nd Amendment (2A) Sanctuary status stating they would not enforce this law. 
  • ERPOs have been used to varying degrees across different geographical areas in the state. Law enforcement officers submitted over two-thirds of all ERPO petitions in 2020, mostly coming from jurisdictions surrounding the Denver Metro Area.


Extreme risk protection orders (ERPOs) are a type of civil restraining order issued through a court that temporarily prevents a person from purchasing or possessing firearms and requires said person to surrender concealed carry permits. ERPOs seek to prevent injury and death while also protecting due process rights. "Colorado's first year of extreme protection orders" in the National Library of Medicine provides more information.

When voluntary approaches like secure or out-of-home storage have failed, an ERPO can be requested for those with an elevated risk of harming themselves or others. These protection orders are often referred to as “Red Flag Laws.” extreme risk protection orders are also known as Gun Violence Restraining Orders in California and Firearms Restraining Orders in Illinois. 

Are extreme risk protection orders effective?

One study found that approximately 10% of ERPOs filed across six states were in response to a threatened mass shooting. Research shows that for every 10-20 ERPOs granted, one suicide death is prevented.

The ERPO Process (C.R.S. §13-14.5-101 - 13.14.5-116)

Colorado Revised Statutes (C.R.S.) are posted on the Colorado Legal Resources Public Access Website.

  • A petitioner is a person who requests an ERPO for a respondent (the person at risk). Petitioners are not anonymous. 
  • A qualifying petitioner must submit an ERPO petition to a civil court in the district where the respondent is currently employed or where they currently reside. 
  • Once a petition is filed, a judge reviews it to determine whether to grant an emergency or temporary extreme risk protection order (TERPO) for up to two weeks. 
  • If the TERPO is granted, then during the two weeks, a hearing occurs at which the respondent and petitioner may present evidence. 
  • After that hearing, the judge determines whether to grant a full ERPO, which prohibits the respondent from possessing or purchasing firearms for up to 364 days.
  • Respondents can file to terminate the ERPO early, and petitioners can file to extend the ERPO when it nears expiration. 
  • In considering whether to grant an ERPO, a judge assesses whether the petitioner has illustrated “clear and convincing evidence” that the respondent poses a significant risk of causing injury to themselves or others by having a firearm in their custody, control, or by having the ability to purchase a firearm. Convincing evidence may include threats made publicly, privately, through social media, or through other forms of communication.

In Colorado 

In Colorado, petitioners of ERPOs can include:

  1. Law enforcement officers.
  2. District attorneys.
  3. Family, defined as related to the respondent by birth, marriage, or legal adoption.
  4. Household members who reside in the same household with the respondent or have resided with them for the past six months.
  5. Licensed educators who interacted with the respondent or respondent’s child within six months before requesting an ERPO. 
  6. Licensed medical professionals or licensed mental health professionals who provide care to the respondent or the respondent's child within six months before requesting the ERPO. 

There are two orders available in Colorado: temporary and final orders. 

  • A temporary extreme risk protection order (TERPO) lasts up to 14 days after its filing date.
  • A final order for a full ERPO lasts 364 days after its filing date. 

Colorado-specific ERPO law also requires:

  • That legal counsel be provided by the state for the respondent. 
  • Law enforcement petitioners to concurrently file a search warrant for firearms in possession of the respondent. 5 

For more information, see the Colorado Judicial Branch’s Forms and Instructions for Extreme Risk Protection Orders.


  1. Zeoli AM, Frattaroli S, Barnard L, et al. Extreme risk protection orders in response to threats of multiple victim/mass shooting in six U.S. states: A descriptive study. Prev Med. Published December 2022. doi:10.1016/j.ypmed.2022.107304.
  2. Swanson JW, Easter MM, Alanis-Hirsch K, et al. Criminal Justice and Suicide Outcomes with Indiana's Risk-Based Gun Seizure Law. J Am Acad Psychiatry Law. Published June 2019. doi:10.29158/JAAPL.003835-19.
  3. C.R.S. §13-14.5-101-116. (Statutes current through all legislation from the 2023 Regular Session effective as of June 30, 2023. The text of this section is not final. It will not be final until compared to, and updated from, the text provided by the Colorado Office of Legislative Legal Services later this year.)
  4. HB19-1177: Extreme Risk Protection Orders | Colorado General Assembly
  5. SB23-170: Extreme Risk Protection Order Petitions | Colorado General Assembly
  6. Barnard LM, McCarthy M, Knoepke CE, et al. Colorado’s first year of extreme risk protection orders. Inj. Epidemiol. Published October 20, 2021. doi:10.1186/s40621-021-00353-7.
  7. C.R.S. §13-14.5-108. Surrender of a firearm., C.R.S. §13-14.5-108 (Statutes current through all legislation from the 2023 Regular Session effective as of June 30, 2023. The text of this section is not final. It will not be final until compared to, and updated from, the text provided by the Colorado Office of Legislative Legal Services later this year.)