Proponents of red flag laws tell us that these kinds of measures will make us all safer, that they’re essential in combating mass shootings.
However, the recent shooting at an Indianapolis FedEx facility–which is in a state with red flag laws–is the latest example of how red flag laws may exist, but that doesn’t mean they’ll actually stop anyone or prevent anything.
That’s not going to stop those proponents from ignoring that failure.
Many mass shootings could have been avoided if we instead put more resources toward mental health programs for people who need them. Families should have the resources to help those experiencing mental health challenges, and with the government’s financial backing, families are more likely to get the help they need.
Syracuse and New York state residents are luckier than most when it comes to gun violence prevention policy. In 2019, New York instituted its red flag law, which effectively takes away guns and prevents the purchase of guns from people who pose a threat to themselves or others. But though these red flag laws are a step in the right direction, mass shootings nationwide have shown that they are not enough.
The gunman responsible for the shooting in Indianapolis on April 15 had exhibited signs of distress that made his mother alert the police, who seized his shotgun in March 2020. Under Indiana’s red flag laws, someone can alert police officers that a person has exhibited signs of distress, and police can temporarily take away their weapons. But the law was not used against Hole after police seized his firearm, enabling him to purchase more weapons before killing eight people at a FedEx facility, IndyStar reported.
The Biden administration recently announced that one of its six objectives regarding gun control legislation would be to publish model red flag legislation for the states to follow and to incentivize states to pass red flag laws. But the administration should not just be incentivizing states to pass this legislation. It should also ensure that states enforce it.
So, let me get this straight. We all know that the Indianapolis shooter could have been hit with a red flag order, but wasn’t, so the answer is more red flag laws?
How the hell does that work?
Look, if red flag laws worked, there wouldn’t be any need for them. Every state in the country has a law that allows for a 72-hour hold for anyone who may be a threat to themselves or others, which can then be extended if needed. If people took advantage of these laws, then those who represent a threat wouldn’t just be pulled away from their guns but would be pulled away from anything they could use as a weapon.
The fact that people aren’t tells us that people won’t necessarily use the red flag laws, either.
Well, the people who need to use them won’t, anyway. What we will see is people panicking about a loved one having a rough time or wanting to strike back and someone who upset them. The laws will get used for that plenty, even if the rough time doesn’t include suicidal tendencies.
No one used the red flag law in Indianapolis because they didn’t think their loved one was that big of a threat. The same is true of the Boulder shooter, who also lived in a state with red flag laws.
That’s not going to change because you pass more of the same failed laws.