Which States Have Red Flag Laws, the Gun Control Measure Uniting Republicans and Democrats

What’s taking place

Gun regulation advocates are calling for what are often called pink flag legal guidelines to grab firearms from at-risk people.

Why it issues

There have been greater than 230 mass shootings in 2022 up to now, together with latest assaults in Tulsa, south Texas and Buffalo.

What’s subsequent

Democrats and Republicans in Congress are discussing gun regulation laws, together with pink flag legal guidelines.

Deadly mass shootings in Buffalo, New York; Uvalde, Texas; and Tulsa, Oklahoma, have resurfaced the longstanding debate on gun management in the US. 

In Congress, there’s uncommon bipartisan curiosity in pink flag legal guidelines, which permit legislation enforcement to grab firearms from these deemed a threat to themselves or others.

Red flag legal guidelines, formally often called excessive threat safety orders, have already been handed in at the least 19 states, together with Republican strongholds like Indiana and Florida. 

Here’s what you’ll want to learn about these legal guidelines, together with how they work, the place they exist and whether or not such laws could possibly be handed on the federal degree.

What are pink flag legal guidelines?

Red flag legal guidelines enable excessive threat safety orders, or ERPOs, to be issued to briefly cease high-risk people from preserving, shopping for or promoting weapons, according to the Seattle Police Department,  “when there’s demonstrated proof that the particular person poses a big hazard” to themselves or others.

While specifics fluctuate from state to state, the orders additionally usually stop an individual from acquiring a hid weapon license and require them to give up their allow if they’ve one.

Factors that may set off an order embrace violent habits or self-harm, substance abuse and a “harmful psychological well being disaster,” in response to Seattle police.

Where have pink flag legal guidelines been enacted?

To date, 19 states and the District of Columbia have mechanisms to problem excessive threat safety orders on the books: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia and Washington.

A makeshift memorial at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas

A makeshift memorial at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, the place 19 college students and two academics had been killed on May 24 after an 18-year-old opened fireplace inside the college. 


Alex Wong/Getty Images

Maine’s “yellow flag” law is exclusive in that it requires approval from each a choose and a medical care supplier earlier than firearms may be seized.

More than half of all pink flag legal guidelines had been handed after the lethal 2018 assault on Parkland, Florida’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, the place a former scholar used a semi-automatic rifle to kill 17 folks and injure 17 others.

In May 2020, Oklahoma became the first state to cross laws particularly prohibiting any jurisdiction from enacting pink flag legal guidelines.

Who can request an excessive threat safety order?

Most pink flag legal guidelines solely enable relations, family members or police to petition the court docket to grab somebody’s firearms, however a couple of let college officers, medical professionals and even employers and co-workers make the request.  

Are pink flag legal guidelines profitable?

Because pink flag legal guidelines are a latest gun management measure — and mass shootings are nonetheless comparatively uncommon in comparison with different types of gun violence — strong knowledge is difficult to come back by. According to Everytown for Gun Safety, although, pink flag legal guidelines “are a confirmed solution to intervene earlier than an incident of gun violence.”

Extreme Risk laws give key neighborhood members a solution to intervene earlier than these warning indicators escalate into tragedies with out going by means of the prison court docket system,” the gun regulation nonprofit mentioned in a press release on its web site.

At least 16,857 ERPOs had been filed between 1999 and 2021, 90% after the 2018 Parkland taking pictures.

According to Everytown, in California, gun violence restraining orders (the state’s model of an ERPO) have averted a number of mass shootings — together with an incident the place an worker at a automobile dealership threatened to shoot his supervisor and different workers if he was fired.

After his supervisor knowledgeable legislation enforcement and a GVRO was obtained, 5 firearms had been seized.

Everytown additionally reviews that briefly eradicating weapons from folks in disaster considerably reduces the threat of firearm suicide, which ends up in the deaths of at the least 24,000 Americans every year. 

A handgun at a crime scene

Nineteen states and Washington, DC, have pink flag legal guidelines permitting legislation enforcement to briefly confiscate firearms from somebody deemed a hazard to themselves or others.


JJ Gouin/Getty Images

Most weapons utilized in mass shootings are purchased legally — in shops, at gun exhibits and on-line — making monitoring and intervention with ERPOs simpler. And the deadliest mass shootings are carried out by young men under 25, who should still be dwelling at residence with relations who can petition for an order.

Still, some state legislation enforcement officers have expressed reluctance to enforce the orders. Colorado Sheriff Steve Reams told CNN in 2019 that he’d relatively go to jail than implement a pink flag legislation.

And even when police do implement an order, a choose will solely problem one for a selected timeframe. 

Can Congress cross a pink flag legislation?

While no federal pink flag legislation has cleared each chambers on Congress, leaders in each events have signaled help for such a measure. In August 2019, after back-to-back shootings in Dayton, Ohio, and El Paso, Texas, that killed 31 folks, then-President Donald Trump said laws should be passed to make sure people “judged a grave threat to public security wouldn’t have entry to firearms.”

That identical 12 months, Republican Sen. Lyndsey Graham of South Carolina and Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut indicated they had been engaged on a measure to offer funds to states that cross pink flag legal guidelines.

The invoice was by no means launched, nevertheless. 

On Thursday, House Democrats held a particular session of the Judiciary Committee to mark up the Protecting Our Kids Act, a bundle of measures supposed to stem gun violence.

Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut informed The Wall Street Journal he was discussing a pink flag invoice with Senate Republicans, together with Sens. John Cornyn of Texas and Susan Collins of Maine.

Whether these talks result in substantive laws, although, is questionable.

“Several completely different instances we have had conversations amongst members and at markups about the desirability and the relevance” of pink flag legal guidelines, Sen. Chris Coons, a Democrat from Delaware, told Axios. “That ought to be enactable, however in the a number of years since, regardless of repeated efforts … we have not been in a position to get to 10 on that.”

The National Rifle Association advocacy group has additionally expressed issues about pink flag legal guidelines, saying they may intrude with an individual’s right to due process.

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