Statement of Purpose Extreme risk protection orders (ERPO) show promise in preventing firearm violence, including suicide, but have largely unknown implications for racial/ethnic disparity. We conducted a multifaceted examination of the intersection of race/ethnicity with ERPO perceptions and use in California through evaluation of racial/ethnic differences in (1) public awareness of and support for ERPOs and (2) ERPO implementation.
Methods/Approach We draw from complementary data sources: (1) a state-representative survey conducted in 2020 among California adults, and (2) ERPO court case files for the first three years of policy implementation (2016–2018). We present race/ethnicity-stratified descriptive statistics.
Results Awareness of California’s ERPO law was low overall, particularly among Black and Asian American participants. Compared with most other racial/ethnic groups, Hispanic/Latinx and Black Californians perceived ERPOs as less appropriate and were less willing to act as petitioners in various hypothetical risk scenarios. Black participants were also the least likely to prefer to have police petition for an ERPO on their behalf. Analysis of ERPO case documents suggests that some case circumstances, identified risk factors for violence, and ERPO process details also differed by race/ethnicity of the respondent subject to the order. For example, Black respondents were the least likely of any racial/ethnic group to have legal representation in court for a long-term order after a hearing.
Conclusion Our two sources of data synergistically provide insights that would not arise from the use of either source alone. Results indicate the potential for racial/ethnic inequities in the benefits and harms of ERPO use (and lack thereof) in California.
Significance For ERPOs to be successful, they must equitably prevent violence. There is a need to better understand and address sources of racial/ethnic differences in support for and willingness to use ERPOs as well as potential disparities in ERPO implementation.
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