Democrats prime statehouses to rewrite ‘red flag’ gun laws

Nineteen states and the District of Columbia already have red flag laws — many in the aftermath of the 2018 Parkland shooting in Florida, where 17 students died and another 17 were injured. But many states are running into problems using the laws to prevent gun violence, sparking a new national push to redesign and implement them.

“Passing laws is half the equation and implementing them is the other half,” said John Feinblatt, president of Everytown for Gun Safety, a nonprofit that advocates for reducing gun violence. “What we’ve seen in too many instances like in Buffalo, N.Y., and Highland Park, Ill., there were clear signs that a red flag law could have been used and prevented tragedy. The costs are too high to not focus on implementation.”

Also known as extreme risk protection orders, or ERPO, red flag laws are used by law enforcement to respond to potential threats, often in cases of domestic violence or suicide, and, possibly mass shootings. Police, family members and teachers can petition a court to take away a gun from a person for up to a year if they feel that person poses a danger to themselves or others.

“Hopefully people who get behind ERPO see it as a way to get ahead of a tragedy before it happens,” said Sean Holihan, state legislative director of Giffords, an anti-gun violence nonprofit founded by former Arizona Rep. Gabby Giffords, who was shot in 2011. “As long as we get them to understand people’s due process rights are respected, we’re just trying to prevent a tragedy, whether it’s taking their own life or a mass shooting.”


December 21, 2022 at 07:14AM

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