Fewer firearms seized under ‘red flag’ law

BOSTON — Far fewer people have seen their weapons seized by police under the state’s "red flag" law, according to new state data. The law was used to confiscate firearms belonging to nine people last year, a decline of more than 50% from the previous year, when 22 so-called "extreme risk protection orders" were issued, according to the state Trial Court. In all, there have been 39 extreme risk petitions filed under the 2018 law. The law, passed in the wake of school shootings nationally, allows police or friends or relatives of a legal gun owner to seek an order if they believe that person poses a risk to themselves or others. The order gives police authority to temporarily confiscate someone’s firearms and ammunition. Supporters of the red-flag law say they’re not sure why the numbers of cases declined last year but say the law is working as intended. "If it saves just one life the law is successful," said Ruth Zakarin, executive director of the Massachusetts Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence. "The whole point of the law is that it helps save lives by allowing families concerned about the safety of a loved one to temporarily remove the guns while they get them help." Courthouses were closed to the public last year due to precautions to prevent spread of the coronavirus, which likely deterred some people from filing requests. Zakarin said many people don’t know about the new law, which is likely another factor. Critics of the red-flag […]

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