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A Micro-and Macro Evaluation of the Effectiveness of Extreme Risk Protection Orders in Colorado

Award Information

Award #
Funding Category
Competitive Discretionary
Awardee County
Congressional District
Funding First Awarded
Total funding (to date)

Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2023, $1,456,274)

Statement of the Problem:

Firearm violence is a leading cause of death in the United States and a critical public health problem. Extreme Risk Protection Orders (ERPOs) are civil restraining orders that intend to reduce firearm deaths by temporarily prohibiting individuals who are threatening violence to themselves or others from purchasing or possessing firearms. Currently, 20 states and the District of Columbia have passed ERPO laws; however, the efficacy of these laws is not well understood in terms of their impact on firearm deaths or individuals who engage in the ERPO policy process.

Research Design and Analysis:

Over a five-year period, this multidisciplinary team will use primary and secondary data sources, including quantitative and quantitative approaches, to address research goals. The aims are to: (1) estimate the causal effect of ERPO implementation on firearm fatalities in the State of Colorado by looking at Colorado and a similar state without an ERPO law (Wisconsin) using a longitudinal, quasi-experimental approach, difference-in-difference estimation; and (2) characterize the effectiveness of ERPOs for respondents in terms of reducing risk of firearm violence and non-law enforcement petitioners in terms of reducing risk of violence and victimization using surveys and qualitative interviews. CDC WONDER and other data sources will be used to perform the difference-in-difference estimation to assess the causal impact of ERPOs on firearm mortality. This project will expand on an existing in-house ERPO database by connecting to criminal justice and mortality data. The existing dataset will be linked to these data using Lexis Uni and the Colorado Division of Criminal Justice Office of Research and Statistics database. Surveys and qualitative interviews will be conducted with respondents and non-law enforcement petitioners of ERPOs to understand ERPOs’ individual-level impacts. While the service area is Colorado, benefits extend beyond this state.

Intended Beneficiaries and Anticipated Benefits:

Results will meaningfully contribute to research and promote evidence-based policy related to ERPOs. Assessments of ERPO laws are limited. Few studies examine the macro and micro impacts of ERPO laws as the present research goals do. Results will demonstrate how ERPO laws work or where they fall short in their intended effects on firearm mortality. The results have implications for public safety, including reducing homicides, suicides, and mass shootings. Additionally, individual-level consequences that will be examined among those who have engaged in the ERPO policy process provide the opportunity to address the impending risk of firearm violence and victimization.

Date Created: September 27, 2023