Researchers Say Gun Restraining Order Laws Seem to be Working

DAVIS -- Researchers at the University of California, Davis say red flag laws appear to be working.

"If you see something, say something, and this restraining order policy allows that to be turned into and we can do something," Dr. Garen Wintemute, professor of emergency medicine and director of the Violence Prevention Research Program at UC Davis, told FOX40.

Wintemute is the lead researcher on a new study that says gun violence restraining orders, often called "red flag" orders, play a role in preventing mass shootings.

California's red flag law went into effect in 2016, allowing family members or police to petition a court to temporally take away guns and ammunition from people at risk of hurting themselves or others.

This study looks at 21 cases where people threatened a mass shooting and had their firearms confiscated or purchases blocked.

"And none of those mass shootings occurred," Wintemute said. "We can’t say that the orders are responsible for the shootings not occurring but there’s a certain logic to the idea that if someone is threatening violence and firearms are a part of the threat, if you removed the firearms from the situation, the threat is lessened."

Gun rights advocates have long fought against red flag orders, saying they violate Second Amendment rights and that other laws on the books are enough prevention.

Gun Owners of California Executive Director Sam Paredes doubts the value of the study, saying the sample size wasn't large enough and there's no way to account for other factors that may have prevented the violence.

"They don’t want to put any emphasis on studying the subjects, the people that are willing to commit these mass murders," Paredes said. "And until they do they’re going to continue to happen."

California lawmakers are considering several bills that would expand the state's red flag law.

Wintemute says his research backs up these efforts, particularly a bill that would expand who can report at-risk individuals, allowing teachers, employers and co-workers to request a court order.

"Broader access to this mechanism to prevent violence is a good thing," Wintemute said.

Other bills up for review include expanding how long these court orders would last, as well as more training for officers on how to deal with red flag orders.

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