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June 27, 2022

Letter to the editor: Red flag laws offer gun safety band-aid

The latest episodes of gun violence seem to have tapped into a more concerted public discussion of effective strategy among gun control advocates nationwide. Measures discussed recently range from federally enforced background checks to outright bans on certain types of weapons and accessories. 

Another idea we encounter often in the discussion is the implementation of “red flag laws” on a state by state basis. The following excerpt regarding these laws is taken from the website of World Population Review, an independent data analysis group that “crunches” comprehensive data from all across the globe and produces simplified articles for interested readers. The site is free, and is headquartered in Walnut, Calif.:

“In the U.S., red flag laws authorize police or family members to petition state courts to temporarily remove firearms from a person deemed to be a danger to themselves or others. The order can also bar the person from purchasing guns. This typically occurs when relatives or friends are concerned about a loved one who has discussed suicide or harming others and is in possessions of firearms. 

“Red flag laws are also called risk-based gun removal laws and go by several names: Extreme Risk Protection Orders (Oregon, Washington, Maryland, Vermont, Colorado); Extreme Risk Firearm Protection Orders (New Mexico); Risk Protection Orders (Florida); Gun Violence Restraining Orders (California); Risk warrants (Connecticut), and Proceedings for the Seizure and Retention of a Firearm (Indiana). Provisions for such laws vary state-to-state on matters such as who can initiate the process, if a warrant is required, what factors are considered for the firearms to be removed from possessions, how long the guns are restricted, and the process by which the individual may regain access to the guns. The length of time that guns are restricted under these extreme risk protection orders (ERPOs) depends on the circumstances and can usually be extended.” 

Read the full article at: https://worldpopulationreview.com/state-rankings/red-flag-laws-states 

There are 19 states and The District of Columbia currently covered by some form of red flag law, California among them. Basically, in California, it is a restraining order that can be implemented to stop a troubled person from obtaining and using a deadly weapon. 

I didn’t know that California already has what is called here a “Gun Violence Restraining Order” (GVRO) until hearing about it on the radio. 

Here is what constitutes a GVRO as described at courts.ca.gov: “What is a Gun Violence Restraining Order? A Gun Violence Restraining Order is a court order that prohibits someone from having a gun, ammunition or magazines (ammunition storage and feeding devices). It can order someone to: not have (possess or own) a gun, ammunition or magazines; not buy a gun, ammunition, or magazines; and turn in any guns, ammunition and magazines to the police, sell them to or store them with a licensed gun dealer. A Gun Violence Restraining Order cannot order someone to: stay away from you or your family members; not contact or go near you, your children, other relatives, or others who live with you; stop abuse or harassment; or move out of your house. If you are afraid someone close to you may use a gun to hurt themselves, or another person, learn more about how to ask for a gun violence restraining order. If you are concerned about someone’s immediate safety, call the police or 9-1-1.” 

Read the full article here; https://www.courts.ca.gov/33961.htm?rdeLocaleAttr=en 

Yes, it’s a band-aid, but since we can’t get our elected officials to listen to the *majority of us* on gun control issues we must build a future free from random violence, domestic murder, suicide, gang related killings and the slaughter of innocent children on our own initiative. For now, at least.

If you are afraid that a friend, a family member, a co-worker or someone you have seen or heard behaving in a threatening manner is in fact dangerous, you have a band-aid you can attempt to apply. It’s a start.

Terry Butler 

North San Benito County

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