Pointless Red Flag Laws

By Thomas E. Gift, MD. May 4, 2022

“Red flag Laws”, which allow police to seize the firearms of people accused of being at risk to misuse them, have been passed in 19 states. Do they do what proponents say they do? A recent study by Veronica Pear, PhD and Garen Wintemute, MD, and co-authors says the answer is clearly, “No”. It appeared as “Firearm Violence Following the Implementation of California’s Gun Violence Restraining Order Law” on JAMA Network April 5.

In looking at California’s Red Flag law they used methods that are better than those of earlier similar studies. They focused especially on San Diego, whose city attorney was a strong proponent of Red Flag Law use and looked at what changed when California’s Red Flag law went into effect. Using data from hospital reports they studied injuries due to aggressive use of guns. They looked as well at self-harm using guns, again reviewing hospital reports.

Based on data from a number of California counties, trends through the years 2005-2015 were determined regarding aggressive use and self-harm. The authors wanted to see If adopting California’s Red Flag law was followed by a reduction in these incidents below the trends predating the law’s going into effect, which occurred in 2016. Examining 2016-2019 they found that neither aggressive use of firearms nor self-harm from gun use was reduced by the new law. In fact, they found that after the introduction of the law the number of acts of self-harm involving firearms exceeded the prediction, although this result was not statistically significant.

The authors say that their methods were more rigorous compared to others who have examined these questions. Another strength of their study was that it included injuries rather than just deaths. They emphasize that one factor in finding no change following the new law may be the availability of illegal guns: if the government takes away guns held legally, those who want to harm themselves or others may seek to obtain guns illegally. .....

Of all the anti-rights aspects with Red Flag laws the most egregious is that of lack of due process, with hearings conducted 'ex parte'. Furthermore, the process can easily be initiated by something as simple as a complaint made by a beligerent neighbor, eager to get his/her own back on someone they simply don't like regardless of no crime involved. It has been stated before - this law is dangerous.
(Another good read on the subject from October 2019 can be found here.)


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