Friday, July 14, 2023

"Red Flag" Laws Don't Save Lives

"Red Flag" Gun Confiscation Orders (GCOs), alternatively termed as Extreme Risk Protection Orders, have been found to be notably ineffective in preventing mass shootings in the public sphere. Research conducted in 2018, using 36 years' worth of data from 13 states, concluded that GCOs did not contribute to the reduction of crime, suicide, homicide, or mass homicide.

Typically, most mass murderers can be classified into two categories: those with no discernable "red flags" hinting at their actions, and those where governmental agencies failed to act appropriately, whether by resorting to ineffective GCOs, not implementing mandatory mental health commitment procedures, or failing to make an actionable arrest.

The shortcomings of GCOs can be demonstrated in several recent, well-known shooting incidents such as:

The 2022 Buffalo, New York shooting: Despite having the country's most robust "red flag" laws, which enable medical professionals to breach patient confidentiality to seize firearms, the future mass murderer was referred for a psychiatric evaluation. The law proved ineffective, the individual was not disarmed, and a year later, he killed 10 people in a grocery store.

The 2021 Boulder, Colorado incident: The future killer had exhibited violent tendencies, including physically assaulting a classmate. An acquaintance noted the shooter's threats of claiming a hate crime if provoked.

The 2021 Indianapolis, Indiana case: Authorities seized the eventual murderer's shotgun without a warrant and neglected to complete the necessary "red flag" gun confiscation documentation, subsequently allowing him to purchase new firearms.

The 2019 Jacksonville, Florida event: Despite the future killer's mother contacting the police "around 20 times," his six instances of involuntary commitment, and his use of "antipsychotic medications," GCOs in both Florida and Maryland failed to disarm him.

The 2018 Parkland, Florida tragedy: Here, the family of the future murderer defended his emotional state to authorities multiple times. The murderer was continually deemed as a "low risk" despite the authorities having enough grounds to arrest him.

Other instances include the 2019 Aurora, Illinois shooting and the 2015 San Bernardino, California incident, among others, where despite the presence of laws and systems in place to prevent such events, the shooters managed to perpetrate their crimes.

On the other hand, there have been high-profile shootings where the shooter exhibited no "red flags." For instance, the 2019 Sebring, Florida shooting, the 2019 El Paso, Texas tragedy, the 2018 Santa Fe, Texas school shooting, and the 2019 Gilroy, California incident, among others.

[1] Lott, John R. and Moody, Carlisle E., Do Red Flag Laws Save Lives or Reduce Crime?. College of William and Mary and Crime Prevention Research Center: 2018.

[2] Specht, O’Brien. “Even in New York, ‘red flags’ don’t always stop shooters.” The Buffalo News. 2022.

[3] Pagones. “Boulder Shooting Suspect Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa: What We Know.” Fox News.

[4] Watkins, Robertson, and Martinez, “Indianapolis Police Chief Says Gunman Bought Weapons Legally Despite Earlier Warning.” New York Times.

[5] Amara. “Court Documents Shed New Light on Accused Jacksonville Mass Shooter.” WBAL-TV 11 News.

[6] Devine and Pagliery. “Sheriff Says He Got 23 Calls About Shooter’s Family, but Records Show More.” CNN. Investigates; Ovalle, Blaskey, Nehamas. “Shooter Could Have Faced Charges Before Massacre—Had Cops Done Their Job, Experts Say.” Miami Herald.

[7] Bradley. “Aurora Shooter’s FOID Card Was Revoked; Gun Never Confiscated.” WGN9 News.

[8] Melley, Blood, Meyers, Caldwell, Shahzad, Skoloff. “U.S. officials search for missed red flags ahead of San Bernardino shooting.” Public Broadcasting Service News Hour.

[9] Hawkins, AWR. “Report: Mental Health Team Chose Not to Commit Ian Long Earlier this Year.” Breitbart News; Wing. “California Has A Law That Might’ve Prevented The Thousand Oaks Shooting. It Wasn’t Used.” Huffington Post.

[10] Hawkins, AWR. “Gun Control Fail: Red Flag Law, Waiting Periods Fail to Stop Florida Bank Massacre.” Breitbart News; LaGrone. “Florida’s Prison Department Was Unaware of Zephen Xaver’s Questionable Army Stint Prior to Hire.” ABC Action News WFTS.

[11] Gillman, Ngo, Barragan. Calls Grow for “Red Flag” Gun Laws After El Paso Massacre, but Shooter Didn’t Set Off Alarms.” The Dallas Morning News.

[12] Brown, Ruth. “Texas School Shooting Suspect Backed Out of Suicide: Governor.” New York Post

[13] Ormseth, Fry, Nelson, Shalby, Winton, Tchekmedyian. “Disturbing Portrait Emerges of Gilroy Garlic Festival Shooter.” Los Angeles Times.

[14] Davis, Parvini, Jones, Chang. “Motivated by Hate, Gunman Kills One and Wounds Three in Synagogue Attack, Police Say.” Los Angeles Times.

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