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14 States and Many GOP Senators Support Red Flag Laws

The measures go beyond politics to keep the community safe.
December 4, 2020
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14 States and Many GOP Senators Support Red Flag Laws
Connecticut was the first state to pass red flag laws, and they have helped keep many people safe from mass shootings. In 1999, Connecticut enacted firearm seizure legislation following a mass shooting at the state lottery headquarters. Connecticut’s law requires an “independent investigation” by police if they believe that a person poses “a risk of imminent personal injury” to self or others, followed by a warrant request, with several formal checks on the judge’s ability to order the seizure and retention of firearms by law enforcement. Indiana was the second state. In 2005, after the fatal shooting of a police officer in Indianapolis, Indiana enacted firearm seizure laws. Indiana’s law permits warrantless seizure of a person’s firearms if a police officer believes the person has a “mental illness” and is “dangerous,” defined as an imminent or future “risk of personal injury” to self or others. Indiana’s firearm seizure law was associated with a 7.5% reduction in firearm suicides in the ten years following its enactment, larger than that seen in any comparison state by chance alone. Since then, other states have followed suit. Four states (California, Washington, Oregon, and Florida) have recently passed "extreme risk protection orders." Although the specifics of each piece of legislation vary, all of these laws allow risk-based firearm seizures that are time-limited, with a level of judicial oversight and due process, and that apply to persons who are not already prohibited from owning guns. To date, 19 other states have proposed such legislation, and federal policies are being considered. Even Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., in his opening remarks at the full Committee meeting, said he supports these laws and sought to downplay fears of second amendment infringement. "There are a lot of people [who] may be worried, 'Is the government going to come take your guns?' And the answer is, 'No,' " Graham said, hinting that one day he hopes there could be a federal process for law enforcement or family members to be able to petition a court signaling someone is "about to blow." Part of the reason for the reversal in political position is that public opinion has shifted. The New York Times reported that "a third of Americans reported that fear of a mass shooting stops them from going to certain public places, according to a survey by the American Psychological Association. Sixty percent say they’re worried about a mass shooting in their community."
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Lawmakers consider broadened “Red Flag” law
States Are Embracing Red Flag Laws for Gun Owners. Here’s How They Work.

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