The White House announced on Tuesday that President Joe Biden is supporting Rep. Salud Carbajal’s bill to create grants that would add gun violence restraining orders in more states, one of several gun control bills set to go to the House this week. Carbajal’s bill addresses states, and a similar bill by Lucy McBath of Georgia would add the restraining orders to federal courts. Other bills on the Hill would expand background checks, raise the age to buy certain rifles, limit magazine rounds, and ban ghost guns. The actions follow the deaths of 21 people at an elementary school in Texas, 10 at a market in Buffalo, and about a hundred more killed or wounded in mass shootings in just the past weekend.
“An extreme risk protection order is a common-sense, effective measure to empower family members, health care providers, school officials, or law enforcement officers to petition a court to temporarily prevent a person from accessing firearms if they are found to be a danger to themselves or others,” the White House statement described.
Such laws already exist in California and 18 other states. Nicknamed Red Flag Laws, the extreme risk protection orders are often used in cases of domestic violence. In Santa Barbara County, 521 people were prohibited from owning firearms for a number of reasons, including domestic violence, probation, felony conviction, or mental-health reasons in the past three years. Among that group were 1,310 handguns and 35 assault weapons. However, according to Sheriff’s Office statistics, only 139 of the people were located; the others had moved out of state, they or their guns could not be found, or the removal order had come from a federal jurisdiction, which the county could not act upon. The Santa Barbara Police Department provided information on gun violence emergency orders, which have been used 55 times since 2017, and police officers confiscated 156 guns in situations that the courts deemed dangerous.
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Carbajal’s bill would fund the training of law enforcement and the courts in using the restraining orders effectively. The laws are shown to work, according to Carbajal’s office, preventing threatened shootings in workplaces and also lowering deaths by suicide.
The restraining orders could reduce school shootings, as well, by giving a close friend or relative of a person planning a mass shooting the means to remove their weapons. A study by the Secret Service in 2019 found that perpetrators of school violence had demonstrated concerning behavior, and in 77 percent of cases, one other person knew of the plan.
“This forms a direct connection between school violence incidents and red flag laws,” Carbajal’s office stated. “Having these laws on the books could intervene before violence occurs in our schools.”