To the editor:
As we approach the one-year anniversary of Massachusetts’ passing of a so-called Red Flag law (July 2018), I write to discuss the importance of such laws across the United States.
All too often after an act of gun violence, law enforcement or family members point to warning signs the shooter posed a risk to themselves or others. While we can’t prevent every tragedy, we can give the people who are in a position to see these warning signs a way to intervene.
Red Flag laws allow families and law enforcement to ask a judge to temporarily suspend a person’s access to guns if there are clear signs that person poses a serious threat to themselves or others.
Congress must pass legislation that creates a way for family members and law enforcement to act before warning signs escalate into tragedies. In the states that have Red Flag laws on the books, lives are already being saved.
In Connecticut, the enforcement of a Red Flag law was associated with a 14 percent reduction in the state’s firearm suicide rate, and in the first three months the law was in effect in Maryland, law enforcement used the tool nearly 150 times to temporarily remove guns from dangerous situations.
This year, The Boston Globe reported that hearings on petitions held in eight state district courts saw six orders issued for temporary removal of firearms from people identified as being dangers to themselves or others. I am asking all Bay Staters to thank their congressional delegation for supporting a federal Red Flag law and to please ask family and friends in other states to urge their U.S. representatives and senators to pass a federal Red Flag law.