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Red-Flag Gun Laws Are Gaining Momentum

It's still early, but studies say they do help
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Aug 24, 2019 4:15 PM CDT
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In this Sept. 24, 2017 file photo, police tape lines the scene at the Burnette Chapel Church of Christ after a deadly shooting at the church Antioch, Tenn.   (Andrew Nelles/The Tennessean via AP)
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(Newser) – With bipartisan support in many cases, 17 states and Washington, DC, have now passed "red flag laws" that allow the court-ordered removal of guns from people who are considered to be dangerous. The back-to-back shootings that killed 31 people this month in Texas and Ohio have given new momentum to proposals pending in several other states and to a plan in Congress to provide grant money to states that adopt such measures, the AP reports. In a rare victory for gun control advocates, the laws have spread since the February 2018 shooting that killed 17 students and staff members at a high school in Parkland, Florida. New York's new law took effect Saturday while New Jersey's begins Sept. 1.

The proliferation of such laws comes despite opposition from gun rights activists and others who say the measures go too far. Since most of the laws are new, research on their effectiveness is limited. A study published last year estimated that the two states with the longest-standing laws, Connecticut and Indiana, may have had 500 fewer gun suicides over a decade as a result of the measures. Another study estimated that Connecticut, which adopted its law in 1999 after a mass shooting at the state lottery office, prevented one suicide for every 10 to 20 people subjected to gun seizures. A study published this week about California's law found 21 examples of possible shooters being disarmed. But critics of the laws say they can result in the seizure of guns from law-abiding citizens based on thin claims of danger or false and exaggerated allegations.

(Read more gun laws stories.)

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