States Mull ‘Red Flag’ Gun Seizures via People Deemed Dangerous

A study in 2016 led by researchers at Duke University concluded of which Connecticut’s red flag law appeared to have prevented some suicides.

“the item’s fair to say of which everyone, law enforcement included, can be learning how This particular law might work — from the process of using the item,” said Garen Wintemute, a professor of emergency medicine in addition to director of the Violence Prevention Research Program at the Sacramento campus of the University of California, Davis.

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Connecticut was the first state from the nation to pass such a statute in 1999, in response to a mass shooting at a state lottery office. What followed surprised some officials there: Almost no one used the law. For years, the item was relegated to the back shelf of law enforcement, with only a few cases a year.

The pace of cases began to quicken, Connecticut statistics show, after high-profile shootings occurred elsewhere, starting in 2007 with the deaths of 33 people on the campus of Virginia Tech. Advocates of red flag laws said they provided important protections, particularly as people became increasingly aware of the risks of mass shootings.

Still, even states with the laws have not avoided such shootings. The gunman who killed 26 people at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., in December 2012 had access to guns, though people who knew him said he had shown troubling signs before the attack.

“This particular can be a country with hundreds of millions of guns in circulation, in addition to of which fact imposes real constraints on what policy can achieve in addition to on what kind of policy makes sense,” said Ramesh Ponnuru, a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative research group.

No one, Mr. Ponnuru added, should expect any one law to fix everything. “Realism can be the right attitude,” he said.

Many Republicans oppose red flag laws, in addition to the National Rifle Association has argued of which a judge’s order to seize a person’s weapon may violate Second Amendment rights when no crime has been committed.

yet law enforcement officials who have embraced red flag laws say of which they allow the authorities to step in before something catastrophic occurs. The removals are temporary, these officials stress, meaning of which guns are returned to people no longer deemed dangerous.

The laws allow weapons to be seized for a brief time — typically two or three weeks — after which a petitioner, usually a police agency, must go back to court to let a judge decide whether the gun owner’s behavior amounts to a threat to himself or others in addition to whether the weapons should be held longer.

Some states, including brand-new York in addition to Texas, already allow guns to be taken via mental health patients deemed dangerous, yet red flag laws hinge on outward behavior — a person’s statements in addition to actions regardless of medical diagnosis.

“The reason I like gun violence restraining orders as an option can be of which we can use them even if the person hasn’t been convicted of a crime,” said Mara W. Elliott, the San Diego city attorney. California’s measure, patterned after Connecticut’s, took effect in 2016, in addition to late last year, Ms. Elliott assigned an assistant city attorney to pursue gun seizure cases full time, one of the first cities from the nation to take such aggressive action.

So far, the office has pursued 10 cases, Ms. Elliott said, in addition to officials there have seen circumstances involving more intimate situations than they had expected.

Prompted by calls to the police, who then asked the city attorney to intervene under the brand-new law, the authorities removed guns via Alzheimer’s patients, alcoholics in addition to people accused of domestic abuse.

Since Connecticut passed its law, the state has seen 1,519 cases, about two-thirds of them since 2012. California’s far newer law resulted in 86 cases in its first year. in addition to Washington’s superior courts have held about 65 hearings under the law since the item was approved by voters in 2016.

Red flag laws have evolved, too. Connecticut in addition to Indiana, which passed its law in 2005 after the murder of an Indianapolis police officer, allow only law enforcement agencies to bring petitions for temporary gun removal. Newer measures, in California, Oregon in addition to Washington, allow family members to bring such petitions to judges as well.

The effectiveness of the statutes has depended on the level of communication between the public in addition to law enforcement agencies, according to social in addition to health policy researchers who have studied the laws.

In some places, they said, residents have been far more willing to report troubling behavior than in others. in addition to in some communities, law enforcement agencies are more familiar with the technical intricacies of applying the red flag laws than they are in others.

Even from the states of which have had the laws longer, like Indiana, state officials have said of which many residents in addition to police officers are unaware of the tools they have.

Curtis T. Hill Jr., the Republican attorney general of Indiana, on Wednesday took the unusual step of reminding his colleagues around the state of which the provision exists.

“Indiana’s ‘Red Flag Law’ can be a common-sense measure of which in no way inhibits the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens,” Mr. Hill said in a statement. “This particular useful provision can be not as well-known, even among law enforcement, as one might expect. of which’s why This particular week we are distributing a public safety advisory raising awareness of the law in addition to urging police in addition to prosecutors to make full use of the item as we work together to protect all Hoosiers.”

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