‘Red flag’ gun laws get another look after Indiana, Colorado shootings

On New Year’s Eve 2017, sheriff’s deputies in the Denver suburb of Highlands Ranch responded to a domestic disturbance. Before the night was over, four officers had been shot and Douglas County Sheriff’s Deputy Zackari Parrish III was dead. The gunman was a 37-year-old man with a history of psychotic episodes whose family had previously tried to take his guns away but found themselves without legal recourse to do so. “We tried every legal avenue we could to not only protect him, but to protect the community,” said Douglas County Sheriff Tony Spurlock. At that time, however, there was nothing more they could do. That changed with the passage of the Deputy Zackari Parrish III Violence Prevention Act, a “red flag” law that took effect in January 2020. It gives judges the ability to issue “extreme risk protection orders” allowing law enforcement to seize firearms from people deemed dangerous to themselves or others. Colorado is among the most recent of 19 states to have enacted red flag laws. Connecticut was first, in 1999. Since then, the data has been mixed on whether the laws have prevented suicides and inconclusive on their power to curb mass shootings. The Connecticut law did not prevent the 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, for instance, though proponents usually point to the laws as one tool for preventing shootings, not one that’s 100% effective. But law enforcement officials who support the laws say they have clearly saved lives. A study […]

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