Red Flag Laws
One proactive measure we can take in preventing further mass shootings involves the application of the Red Flag Law throughout the United States. There's no denying the countless "warning signs" that have been all over the news and Internet about the Parkland massacre shooter.
It's been reported that the shooter posted shocking images to Instagram, wrote graphically violent comment(s) on YouTube, was expelled from high school(supposedly), and had the police visit the residence where the shooter was staying more than a handful of times.
As much as we hope and pray...we just cannot erase what this mentally ill person did to ruin so many lives permanently. So what can we do? Well, for one...we can promise to work harder as a nation when pushing for laws to aid in the prevention of future similar atrocities.
The Red Flag Law is something that would have empowered family members and law enforcement to seek an Extreme Risk Protection Order, a court order temporarily restricting a person's access to gun's when they pose a danger to self or others. More info. and supporting details below, from Everytown:
The Red Flag Law can save lives by creating a way for family members and law enforcement to act before warning signs escalate into tragedies.
- When a person is in crisis, loved ones and law enforcement are often to see the first signs that they pose a threat. Red Flag Laws allow them to seek help from a court to remove guns from dangerous situations.
- Red Flag Laws empower law enforcement and immediate family members to petition a court for an Extreme Risk Protection Order, sometimes called a Gun Violence Restraining Order.
- If a court finds that a person poses a significant danger of injuring themselves or others with a firearm, that person is temporarily prohibited from purchasing and possessing guns and required to turn over their guns while the order is in effect.
Five states have Red Flag Laws--and bills are currently pending in another 18 states.
- California, Connecticut, Indiana, Oregon and Washington have enacted Red Flag Laws.
- Red Flag legislation has been introduced in 18 states and D.C.
Mass shooters often display warning signs before committing violent acts.
- A nationwide study of mass shootings from 2009 to 2016 revealed that in at least 42% of those incidents, there is documentation that the attacker exhibited dangerous warning signs before the shooting.
- For example, before killing six people in Isla Vista, California in May 2014, the shooter displayed numerous warning signs, including making homicidal and suicidal threats. His parents alerted law enforcement, but he did not meet the criteria for emergency mental health commitment. As a result, he kept his guns and used them in the killing spree three weeks later. In response to that tragic shooting, California passed its own Red Flag Law.
- The alleged mass shooter who shot and killed 17 people and injured 15 others at a high school in Parkland, Florida on February 14, 2018 also displayed warning signs prior to the shooting. He was expelled from school, and students and teachers reported that he displayed threatening behavior. His mother contacted law enforcement on multiple occasions regarding his behavior, and he was known to possess firearms.
Red Flag Laws have robust due process protections.
- Final orders--which generally last for up to one year--can only be issued after notice and an opportunity to be heard. At the hearing, the person would have the chance to respond to evidence that they are too dangerous to have a gun.
- A temporary order--which typically lasts 14 to 21 days--can be issued before a full hearing is held, but only if there's clear evidence that an order is necessary to prevent immediate danger.
Red Flag Laws also address another American gun violence epidemic--firearm suicide.
- Suicide accounts for nearly two-thirds of gun deaths in the United States.
- A 2017 study of Connecticut's Red Flag Law found that the law has already averted an estimated 72 or more suicides.
- Reducing a suicidal person's access to firearms can save their life. Nine out of ten suicide attempts with a gun result in death. By contrast, most people who attempt suicide by other means live--and do not eventually die by suicide. Access to a firearm triples the risk of death by suicide.