Red flag gun laws were adopted in 19 states and Washington, D.C., however, several jurisdictions rarely use the provisions to seize firearms from people threatening violence, The Wall Street Journal reported on Monday.
Judges can temporarily seize firearms from individuals at the request of authorities, family members or coworkers, according to the WSJ. However, several cities and counties haven’t invoked the law when warned about impending mass shootings or when family members reported concerns about someone committing a violent act.
Authorities temporarily seized around 5,000 firearms under red flag gun laws in 2020, the WSJ reported. Some law enforcement officials are disappointed by the inconsistent use of the laws they say could prevent violent acts that result in death.
New York City officials have used red flag laws to seize weapons five times since 2019, according to data reviewed by the WSJ. In the same time frame, officials in Suffolk County, New York, including some of Long Island, used the laws 163 times.
Cook County, Illinois, which includes Chicago, seized firearms seven times in 2020 and five times in the first half of 2021, the WSJ reported. Red flag gun laws were used once in Hawaii.
Officials in Polk County, Florida, have acted on 874 occasions under red flag gun laws to remove firearms since 2019, according to the WSJ. The laws were widely adopted after a gunman killed 17 people at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.
Florida officials are responsible for nearly half of all removal incidents under red flag laws in 2020, totaling 2,355 instances, the WSJ reported.
Judges usually grant red flag law removal requests and the seizures typically include a ban on purchasing firearms that lasts a few weeks, according to the WSJ. The laws are mostly effective at preventing suicides, extensive research shows.
There isn’t as much research available on red flag laws’ effectiveness in preventing mass shootings, the WSJ reported.
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