COLORADO SPRINGS – In this 360° Perspective, we’re digging deeper into red flag laws and whether they actually work.
We’ve covered how several southern Colorado counties want to become “sanctuary areas” for the Second Amendment if a red flag bill becomes law in our state.
HB19-1117 would allow police or family to get orders to take firearms from someone, possibly for a year, if they’re at risk of causing harm to themselves or others. This would apply to people who already own guns or want to buy them.
While doing research on this topic, it’s difficult to find studies when it comes to whether red flag laws help prevent murder, but I was able to find information on suicide.
A Psychiatry Online study published last year looked at red flag laws in Connecticut and Indiana, where these types of laws have been on the books the longest.
Researcher Aaron Kivisto found two out of three people killed by a gun died by suicide.
He found in the ten years since Indiana enacted a law in 2005 suicide by gun decreased 7.5 percent.
Also in Indiana, 70 percent of the guns seized were due to suicide concerns.
Connecticut passed its law in 1999. Kivisto found little effect those first few years. But after the Virginia Tech shooting in 2007 enforcement increased and gun suicides decreased by 13.7 percent.
On the flip side, Kivisto said it’s likely the decrease in gun-related suicides is accompanied by a rise in suicide by other means.
Here in Colorado we are consistently in the top states with high suicide rates. The Colorado Health Institute says firearms were involved in half of all suicides in 2017. That number consistent with previous years and national numbers as well.
So far, no research has surfaced to show how red flag laws affect murder rates. NPR reports at least one study is in the works.
Opponents of the red flag bill in Colorado say it is unconstitutional. They say it contradicts the Second Amendment’s right to bear arms. They also say it violates the Fourth Amendment’s right to due process, protecting people from unreasonable searches and seizures.
We have several counties in southern Colorado saying they will become “sanctuary areas,” and will not enforce the bill if it becomes law. Those include Fremont, Otero, Weld, Montezuma and Custer counties.
To date more than a dozen states have red flag laws on the books, more than a dozen others have proposed them.
We’ll continue to track this legislation for you.
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News5 has made it part of our mission to inform and educate about the resources available if you or someone you know are struggling with suicidal thoughts, are overly depressed, withdrawn from society, not reaching out to friends or family.
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255.