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By Thomas Goldsmith

Young voices spoke out at the General Assembly on Tuesday to support a proposed “extreme risk protection order,” a legal device which arms a court to order the removal of a gun from someone at risk of harming himself or someone else.

With a crowd of activist high school students looking on, Democratic sponsors announced the introduction of legislation, HB 454, that would create the order, known as an ERPO. Nico Gleason, 16, from Greensboro’s Grimsley High School, talked about the lobbying effort he’s undertaking with other members from the advocacy group March for Our Lives North Carolina.

“We just really want to find common ground,” Gleason said.

Rep. Marcia Morey (D-Durham) said that 14 other states have adopted extreme risk protection orders. Durham County Sheriff Clarence Birkhead said he supports the measure.

“I think ERPOs are an incredible way to start common-sense gun legislation,” Gleason said.

Paul Valone, president of the gun rights group Grass Roots North Carolina, said he is strongly opposed to the use of ERPOs to take guns away from owners, calling the process a violation of citizen rights under the Constitution.

“I challenge you to find any other constitutionally protected right that can be taken away without due process,” Valone said in a telephone interview Tuesday. “The defendant may not even know that the procedure is under way.”

Process created

Nationally, young people and notably high school students have gained high visibility in gun-safety efforts since a gunman massacred 17 Stoneman Douglas High School students in Florida on Valentine’s Day 2018. According to press accounts, the man accused in the Stoneman Douglas shooting had shown many “red flags,” or the kinds of warnings that could possibly lead to an extreme risk protection order.

“As a judge I heard often witnesses testify that they knew something bad would happen,” Morey said. “After the story was written we hear there were warning signs.”

Birkhead, elected in 2018, said that officers acting within the ERPO guidelines would create a process for enacting such an order. It would start with officers visiting the home of the person who is a potential risk, just as they do in cases of reported domestic violence.

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If the person gives up his firearm, the officers take it, to be returned in a year. If the person doesn’t cooperate, officers can ask a judge for a court order.

“Plain and simple, this bill makes sense,” Birkhead said.

Morey and Birkhead were joined by Reps. Pricey Harrison (D-Greensboro), Grier Martin (D-Raleigh), Christy Clark (D-Mecklenburg) and Moms Demand Action volunteer Kaaren Haldeman in supporting the bill.

Democrats faced questions on why they would reintroduce legislation that didn’t make it out of the Rules Committee last year.

“It’s the right thing to do,” Morey said. “We’re not giving up and we’ll be here next year if we don’t get this heard.”

Correction: This story originally misspelled Paul Valone’s name as Paul Vallone.

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Thomas Goldsmith

Thomas Goldsmith worked in daily newspapers for 33 years before joining North Carolina Health News. Goldsmith is a native Tar Heel who attended the UNC-Chapel Hill, and worked at newspapers in Tennessee...

4 replies on “NC gun safety advocates renew call for Extreme Risk Order of Protection”

  1. Another attempt to circumvent the 2nd Amendment and our Constitution.
    Stop trying to go after “law abiding” gun owners. People with “mental issues” should be helped. Unfortunately our “Mental Health” system in this country is broken! People with “Mental/Emotional issues” will always find ways to “act out”.
    Seizing people’s “lawfully owned firearms”
    Without “DUE PROCESS” is not going to remedy “Mental Health issues.
    It has been proven, that the “Law Enforcement and School Systems in Parkland,Fla. Missed all the signs that the “shooter” was a “mentally deranged individual” Yet, when his Guardians sought out help with his Mental Health they were left to fend for themselves.
    Law Abiding Gun Owners in Fla, had NOTHING TO DO WITH THIS TRAGEDY!
    Law Abiding Individuals in our country will not allow “Red Flag” Laws to turn our country into a “Police State” where you have no rights.

  2. The Democrat Socialists will stop at nothing to disarm law-abiding citizens. “Democrats faced questions on why they would reintroduce legislation that didn’t make it out of the Rules Committee last year.” Why didn’t it make it out of the Rules Committee last year? Because it’s unconstitutional to deprive a citizen of his property without due process! Not to mention that it infringes on the Constitutional Right of the people to keep and bear Arms!

  3. If the problem is someone’s mental health, why do you not advocate seeing that he sees a mental health professional (paid for by the state) instead of violating people’s constitutional rights under the 2nd. and 5th. amendments? Is addressing what is actually the problem not an option?

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