Five myths about red-flag gun laws

Extreme risk protection laws, also known as red-flag laws, allow law enforcement — and in some states, family, household members and other community members — to ask a court to temporarily prevent people from possessing guns if they pose a risk to themselves or others. Nineteen states and the District have versions of these laws, including Indiana, where a 19-year-old shooter killed eight people and himself at a FedEx facility this month. Authorities have said that police previously confiscated a firearm from his home after his mother called 911, fearing he was a suicide risk, and that he was taken to a mental health facility at that time. Yet he was later able to legally purchase the two assault weapons used in this violent act . The incident has raised questions about these laws and whether they can prevent tragedies. The fact is, they do work, despite some misperceptions surrounding them. Elected representatives have claimed that there is “ no evidence that these laws have reduced the frequency of mass public shootings ,” and gun-lobby-supported researchers have argued that “ these laws apparently do not save lives .” Most states have only recently passed red-flag laws, and scholars are still evaluating their impacts. But early research already shows that they appear to stop at least one kind of gun violence: suicides. Connecticut and Indiana — the two states with the longest-standing red-flag laws — saw 14 percent and 7.5 percent reductions in firearm suicide rates, respectively, after implementing their […]

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