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By Thomas E. Gift, MD

“Red flag Laws”, which allow police to seize the firearms of people accused of being at risk to misuse them, have been passed in 19 states. Do they do what proponents say they do? A recent study by Veronica Pear, PhD and Garen Wintemute, MD, and co-authors says the answer is clearly, “No”.

The study was published as “Firearm Violence Following the Implementation of California’s Gun Violence Restraining Order Law” on JAMA Network April 5.

In looking at California’s red flag law they used methods that are better than those of earlier similar studies. They focused especially on San Diego, whose city attorney was a strong proponent of red flag Law use and looked at what changed when California’s red flag law went into effect. Using data from hospital reports they studied injuries due to aggressive use of guns. They looked as well at self-harm using guns, again reviewing hospital reports.

Based on data from a number of California counties, trends through the years 2005-2015 were determined regarding aggressive use and self-harm. The authors wanted to see If adopting California’s red flag law was followed by a reduction in these incidents below the trends predating the law’s going into effect, which occurred in 2016.

Examining 2016-2019 they found that neither aggressive use of firearms nor self-harm from gun use was reduced by the new law. In fact, they found that after the introduction of the law the number of acts of self-harm involving firearms exceeded the prediction, although this result was not statistically significant.

The authors say that their methods were more rigorous compared to others who have examined these questions. Another strength of their study was that it included injuries rather than just deaths. They emphasize that one factor in finding no change following the new law may be the availability of illegal guns: if the government takes away guns held legally, those who want to harm themselves or others may seek to obtain guns illegally.

Different states have adopted these laws under different labels, including: Extreme Risk Protection Orders, Extreme Risk Firearm Protection Orders, and Risk Protection Orders. Gun Violence Restraining Orders is the term used in California. “Red flag law” is a general term that encompasses all these.

Proponents stress the laws’ potential to prevent harm, although, as this study by Wintemute et al. indicates, that claim is highly questionable. At the same time, the laws’ proponents minimize or ignore threats to constitutional rights which go beyond just threats to the Second Amendment. These threats include undercutting the right to due process.

Is the person whose gun may be seized entitled to the presumption of innocence? What is the standard of proof? Is it clear and convincing evidence or just a preponderance of the evidence? Is the subject entitled to legal representation? Shall rules for the admissibility of evidence be followed? Readers can no doubt think of other similar questions.

Bizarrely, if a red flag claim leads to your losing your guns in Indiana, they may be destroyed. If you lose your driver’s license, is your car crushed? If you’re disbarred, are your law books burned?

Throughout their report, Wintemute et al. stress the shortcomings of laws in preventing violence, and with regard to aggression the authors pay little attention to the perpetrators.

The NRA has seemed to tread cautiously on the subject of red flag laws. This may involve not wanting to generate negative press regarding this issue to contaminate the organization’s efforts to support the Second Amendment in other ways. The NRA has at least called attention to the due process issues, some of which are noted above.

The bottom line: There’s little to recommend red flag laws. The findings of this study reinforce what gun owners have been saying all along. The real surprise here is that it comes from Wintemute’s group, which usually finds ways to endorse firearm restrictions.


Thomas E. Gift, MD is a child and adolescent psychiatrist practicing in Rochester, New York, an associate clinical professor of psychiatry at the University of Rochester Medical School, and a Distinguished Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association.

This article originally appeared at and is reprinted here with permission. 

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    • Am I reading this correctly here?
      Is the article saying that there is no relationship between MENTALLY disturbed who may be at risk of using firearms inappropriately including all kinds of criminality including murder?
      It is saying that mentally disturbed persons are NOT the same persons who carry out multiple shootings?
      Is it saying that mentally disturbed persons should have unfettered access to firearms?
      I only ask because that’s what it seems to me.
      It seems tome that banning such persons from owning firearms is so bloody obvious that it should not be neccessary to even question the proposition.
      It should also to me be blindingly obvious that ANYBODY who a has been convicted of illegally using firearms or in the commitence of a crime including those pot-bellied bearded gun obsessed Rambo wannabes should be BANNED for life.

      • Albert buddy. By your statement, I can only conclude that you want the State to restrict rights and freedoms based on what MIGHT happen. If people MAY be at risk. Pre Crime if you will.

        Red Flag laws are used in two ways.

        First, you take someone who MAY be suicidal. The process is to go to a judge about a friend or family member behind their back which will make them feel betrayed, make their problems part of public record which will make them feel humiliated, and have the judge send armed people to confiscate their property which will make them feel powerless. I don’t know if you’ve ever dealt with someone who’s potentially suicidal. Making them feel betrayed, humiliated, and powerless DOESN’T F**KING HELP A SUICIDAL PERSON. In fact, people have already died in conflict with the very cops sent to save them.

        The second way a Red Flag law works is to take a person who’s a law abiding gun owner who has not committed a crime and send cops to their house because they MIGHT be dangerous in the future. This seems to be the portion that you’re focused on. You’re assuming a couple of things. First, that the report to the court is accurate. Let’s assume it is accurate (hint though, it’s usually not). Then, you have to assume that taking guns away would keep this person from getting new guns or using a knife or making home-made explosives or just plowing into traffic with your car (hint, there’s more than one way to kill or harm a person).

        You have no concept of how the world works. You see only the parts you want to see and are incapable of picturing how a specific policy would actually impact the world. The only thing you “know” is more guns always equals bad and fewer guns always equals good.

      • Albert the subject,

        We have a saying, here in the CIVILIZED U.S. – “Reading is fundamental.” No, you are not reading it correctly. Nor do you have the SLIGHTEST understanding of U.S. “Red Flag” laws, or the basis of our (gun rights supporters) objection to them. (Hint: Google “due process”, you uneducated dolt).

        Other than your inability to read, your misunderstanding of “Red Flag” laws, your failure to grasp the basics of due process, and general inanity, that was a hell of a comment. Sod off, swampy.

      • Albert Hall Pretty much the article is co consider all criminals to be mentally ill. What is obvious is you have no idea what you mean by the term “mentally ill”.
        When you figure out what you mean, get back to us. IN the mean time, mind your own business. You are not an American.

  1. “The Science is Settled: Study Shows Red Flag Laws Don’t Reduce Violent Crime or Suicides”

    This is too easy….almost not worth the effort to comment: If it saves only one !

    • Expect the reaction to a 2A Supreme Court decision in our favor to motivate them to create as many legally-prohibited persons as possible…

    • It is doubtful that it would save any lives at best. if that were the case we should also have red flag laws for hammers, screwdrivers, etc?

  2. The only “settled science” is the science that props up the regime.
    Everything else gets airbrushed from history by the Ministry of Truth.

  3. It goes well beyond the obvious. Many pro-2A people are now cautious to enter into a relationship out of fear of being “flagged”. These laws have (un)intentional consequences for our culture.

  4. These “red flag laws” were passed by anti-gun types to show they are doing “something.” As usual, the results are there are no results. The law is post facto.

    • This study even comes from Dr. Gun control wintermute himself! So, um, now that they are proven ineffective, we can roll them back and give the guns back right?

      Too bad for the couple of people shot and killed in weird hour raids to serve the red flags, your death was in vain.

      I imagine they will either just keep the laws because, why not, or they this kind of study would “prove” that red flags don’t work because they aren’t open enough, you need to let any acquaintance call in the red flag, co workers, cousins, your mail carrier, that lady at the grocery store who saw your gun sticker on your car.

      • You should probably read the study before commenting. It doesn’t say what you’ve been led to believe it does. In fact, the last sentence of the conclusion of the research paper states that even though their findings were not supportive, other research on red flag laws have been.

  5. “Doing Something” has been in the Liberal Democrat lexicon since the 60’s. Generally to fix a perceived problem using another well worn Liberal Democrat mantra.”For the Children”. It comes out of an emotional connection Liberal Democrats have that shows how much, “They Care”. Whether or Not it achieves any real fixes is irrelevant as long as it fills their emotional needs. The Liberal democrat leadership has taken advantage of this emotional connection for decades, by learning their voters are easier to control through emotional actions over any real substantive actions. When addressing any Real or Perceived problems.

  6. “Red Flag Laws” were never about safety, just like every other gun control law. These laws are about *** disarming the population *** .

    Once the left achieves that goal, they can do what they want.

    • Remember folks, no matter what the article is about or the relevance to today’s politics…. you’re only allowed to talk or think about Trump!

      • Sorry clueless. Only interested in Obiden. I hear that this week he is lasering in on fixin inflation. Man is dumb as a miner.

        • Fixin’ inflation? Hell, today he admits that he caused it!

          Official White House transcript:
          “I’ve built a strong ec- — we’ve built a strong economy with a strong job market. And I agree with what Chairman Powell said last week that the number-one threat is the strength — and that strength that we built is inflation.”


      • This, coming from YOU, MajorStupidity?????? That is straight comedy gold! If I EVER read a MajorStupidity post that DIDN’T prattle on about the “evil Orange Man” and the “evil Republicans”, I’d know it was someone jacking your nick. You are a pathetic, partisan troll, aspiring to (but failing to achieve) relevance. F*** off back to your circle jerk, MajorStupidity.

        Or, perhaps, try to craft a post that DOESN’T fulminate about the “evil Orange Man” and/or the “evil Republicans”. Do that long enough, and we MIGHT start to take you seriously . . . nah, you’d still be an @$$clown.

      • ‘dj trump’ smells a lot like my mentally-ill demented troll who deserves to live in New Jersey.

        Remember him? He ran away like frightened puppy with his tail between his spindly legs, like a typical chickenshit Leftist Scum ™.

        What a loser he is! 🤣

  7. I don’t really understand these red flag laws. At least in Florida, I don’t understand what they are supposed to do that hasn’t been in place for decades. It’s called a BA-52, a Baker Act. It allowed for the seizure of firearms under particular circumstances. Mental health commitments. Every LEO I ever knew hated doing a BA-52. An assload of trouble and 72 hours later, guess what? He’s back. No one liked seizing firearms either. Most guys just hated the paperwork. I had a question though. I’ve got the guy. I’m separating him from his firearms. If Apalachee Mental Health says he no threat; why can’t he return home to his firearms? No one ever tried to answer that question. Especially the mental health professionals I asked. What I usually did was contact a friend or relative to take possession. The law said the subject couldn’t have them. It didn’t say I had to take them.

    • 1. pshrinks don’t know/do diddly squat.
      2. pshrinks are as much wards of the state as the worst welfare leach/queens.

  8. “The great tragedy of science – the slaying of a beautiful hypothesis by an ugly fact.”

    I almost feel sorry for the hapless researchers. On second thought, nah. Being proven wrong never stopped a leftist.

  9. If someone wants to commit suicide, I’d rather they do it with guns or drugs, than to drive head-on into oncoming traffic that I might be in. With the massive increase in the availability of Fentanyl, I would expect it to eventually replace firearms as the means of self-destruction.

    • And don’t leap in front of trains. It mentally scars the driver and the passengers get p!$$ed about the delay when emergency services are shocked into inaction.

      • “And don’t leap in front of trains.”

        A very real problem in Japan, I hear… 🙁

        • The Intentional Death Rate (Homicides + Suicides) in “Peaceful” “Gun-Free” Japan is 22.1/100,000, nearly 32% higher than the rate in the “Gun-Infested” USA @ 16.8/100,000. Guns Don’t Matter !

        • I was on a train that had someone leap in front of. I was in the 5th carriage from the front (of 8) and felt the impact. Then the brakes were hit hard. An 8 car double-deck train carrying about 2000 people doesn’t exactly stop on a dime.

          We had to wait for over 3 hours for emergency services to do their thing before moving. And all the services behind us (spaced at every 3-5 minutes) were also stopped.

          It’s why leaping in front of trains is considered a selfish way to end your life.

          I’ve been on 3 trains this has happened.


  11. That’s why I say we have no hope for change except by force. This country has been taken over by corrupt politicians for over 45 years. Everyone one that in government from the past 45 years has baggage. They all need to be put on trial and investigated.i do home work ….. 𝐰𝐨𝐫𝐤𝐬𝐜𝐥𝐢𝐜𝐤.𝐜𝐨𝐦

  12. RFPO are stupid laws that say one thing: We think you’re crazy but will ignore it, and instead steal your stuff.

  13. I would highly recommend reading the actual study and, especially, the conclusion. You might just find it does not match up with this author’s article. For instance, the claim in the title is that this is ‘settled science’ but the researchers clearly state this is the first study of its particular kind and that more research needs to be done in the area. Hardly ‘settled’, more like ‘nascent’. The conclusion of the study also states, in the last line, ‘Despite our null findings, the state of the evidence overall supports GVROs and related legislation as tools that may be useful in preventing firearm injury and death.’ Does that sound like something you want to agree with?

  14. Epidemiologic studies show that the large majority of people with serious mental illnesses are never violent. Studies have consistently found that these laws help avert suicides. One study from internet is that Indiana found that for every 10 to 20 gun-removal orders.A red flag law is a gun control law that permits variously police, family members, coworkers, and others to petition a state court.


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