New Jersey has a new "red flag" law that’s designed to stop the next shooting tragedy.

On Sept. 1, the Extreme Risk Protective Order Act took effect, allowing members of a family or household, or a law enforcement officer, to petition a judge to remove firearms from someone who is believed to pose an imminent danger to themselves or others, or stop that individual from buying a gun or ammunition.

According to state Deputy Attorney General Claudia Demitro, someone can file an ERPO by either going to the Superior Court in the county where the person in question lives, or at any law enforcement agency within that county.

“We hope that this would prevent a terrible mass shooting, but this law is also to prevent suicide and those people who are most at risk for hurting themselves," she said.

She said once you file for an ERPO, an expedited hearing will take place, usually on the same day, and a judge will make an initial determination about whether the person presents a significant danger of bodily injury to themselves or others by possessing or purchasing a firearm.

She explained once an ERPO is requested, the court will review a number of factors, including the person’s history of violence, restraining orders or prior arrests.

The judge could also grant police a search warrant if they request one.

If the judge feels the person does pose a bonafide threat, they may order police to confiscate guns from their household.

A second hearing will be held about 10 days later to allow the individual being accused to counter any arguments or proofs presented.

Only cops, relatives or household member can file an ERPO.

"Not just anyone can walk in and file one," Demitro said.

 

The law also requires prosecutors and police to provide the court with background information about the individual.

You can contact reporter David Matthau at David.Matthau@townsquaremedia.com

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