What does it solve?
When a person is in crisis and considering harming themselves or others, family members and law enforcement are often the first people to see the warning signs. Extreme Risk laws, sometimes referred to as “Red Flag” laws, allow loved ones or law enforcement to intervene by petitioning a court for an order to temporarily prevent someone in crisis from accessing guns.
Which states have Extreme Risk laws?
Currently, 19 states and Washington D.C. have enacted Extreme Risk laws.
Myth & Fact
How it works
Extreme Risk laws can de-escalate emergency situations.
In many instances of gun violence, there are clear warning signs that the shooter posed a serious threat before the shooting. Extreme Risk laws give key community members a way to intervene before warning signs become tragedies. These laws allow immediate family members and law enforcement to petition a court for an order for the temporary removal of guns from dangerous situations. These orders are often known as extreme risk protection orders. If a court finds that a person poses a serious risk of injuring themselves or others with a firearm, that person is temporarily prohibited from having guns.
Under current federal law, a person is barred from having guns only if they fall into one of several categories of prohibited persons. A person who displays warning signs that they’re considering suicide or engaging in a violent act, but who is not prohibited under federal law, would still be legally able to buy and possess guns. Extreme Risk laws help to fill this gap, protecting public safety and allowing people in crisis the chance to obtain the help they need.
The mass shooter in the 2018 Parkland school shooting repeatedly displayed threatening behavior prior to the shooting. He was reported to law enforcement on more than one occasion. Following this tragedy, lawmakers across the country have sought to close this gap in their states. Since the beginning of 2018, 14 states and Washington DC have passed Extreme Risk laws, bringing the total number of states with these laws to 19.
By the numbers
Researchers estimate that a suicide is averted in approximately one in ten gun removal cases brought under Connecticut’s Extreme Risk law.
Indiana saw a 7.5 percent reduction in its firearm suicide rate in the 10 years following the enactment of its Extreme Risk law.