Red Flag Laws Draw Fans, Fire.

AuthorTeigen, Anne

Red flag gun laws, also known as extreme risk protection orders, are aimed at people who are in crisis and at a dangerously high risk of harming themselves or others. The laws allow law enforcement and certain other people--family members, romantic partners and, in Maryland, mental health providers--to petition courts to issue orders allowing law enforcement to remove people's access to guns if they appear to be in imminent danger.

Connecticut and Indiana were the first states to enact red flag laws, in 1999 and 2005, respectively. Both states allow only law enforcement to petition the courts. This year, 15 states have enacted similar laws, though they vary in their definitions of "dangerous" people, burden-of-proof requirements and processes for confiscating firearms. Proponents argue the laws can save lives by helping to prevent tragedies before they occur. A study on Connecticut's law found that one suicide was averted for every 10 to 20 guns seized under the law.

The laws are not without critics, however. Colorado's law...

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