Such petitions for extreme risk protection orders have been filed 51 times since the D.C. Council passed the law in December 2018, 13 of which came from police, according to a review of D.C. Superior Court records and data from the D.C. Attorney General’s Office. Council member Charles Allen (D-Ward 6) said that low figure suggests that many District residents may not be aware of the law — or that police aren’t invoking it as often as they could.
But that’s something he hopes could soon change. This week, the D.C. Attorney General’s office is rolling out a public awareness campaign in hopes of making more people aware the law exists. And with legal gun ownership increasing in the District in the wake of federal court decisions that forced the city to loosen its restrictive firearms laws, a D.C. police official said he believes officers will more frequently turn to the city’s red-flag law.
“If we believe as I do that gun violence is at a crisis point, there should be no tool left in the toolbox,” Allen said. “Every tool should be pulled out, should be used, to get guns out of the hands of people that are going to do harm to themselves or others.” …
But the law only works if people know to use it, said Christian Heyne, vice president of policy and programs at Brady, a gun violence prevention organization. “One of the biggest barriers we have to emergency risk laws is folks are largely unaware,” he said. …
Allen said he hopes to see the law used more liberally by police and others, including in illegal gun cases. But that depends in part on people knowing they can seek a petition against a loved one without worrying they’ll end up jailed for unlawful possession, he said.
As part of the public awareness campaign, the attorney general’s fliers include that reminder. Fact-sheets will be distributed at relevant locations such as emergency rooms and shelters, and the attorney general’s office is asking council members and advisory neighborhood commissioners to help get the word out as well.
— Meagan Flynn in D.C.’s ‘Red Flag’ Gun Seizures Are Low. Officials Hope to Change That