Four years after California became one of the first states to expedite the removal of guns from people seen as a public danger by family members or law enforcement, its “red flag” law appears to be helping to reduce the chance of mass shootings, according to a study released Monday by the UC Davis School of Medicine. The initial findings by the school’s Violence Prevention Research Program were made public just hours after Gov. Gavin Newsom said Monday that he is interested in receiving a group of pending bills that would significantly expand the use of so-called “extreme risk protection” orders. At the same time, recent mass shootings in Gilroy, Calif., as well as El Paso and Dayton, Ohio, have renewed the conversation in Congress about possibly adopting national red flag laws. UC Davis researchers examined 21 cases of individuals who had firearms removed from them or purchases blocked because of court orders. The researchers found that none of the individuals was later involved in gun-related violence. “We can’t prove that the orders are responsible for the outcome,” said Garen Wintemute, a professor of emergency medicine and the director of the Violence Prevention Research Program. “But there is an obvious logic to this — that if somebody is posing an imminent threat whether it’s to others or to themselves, and firearms are a part of that threat, recovering the firearms can help reduce the threat,” Wintemute added. The existing law, which took effect in 2016, resulted in judges ordering the temporary removal of firearms from more than 600 people after family members or law enforcement offices petitioned the courts saying the individuals appeared to pose a risk to harm themselves or others. Of 414 cases through 2018, some 91% involved males and 61% were non-Hispanic whites, the study said. UC Davis researchers are continuing to collect information on orders issued, but the initial report focused on 21 cases where 52 guns were removed from individuals. [full article]
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