DOJ Unveils ‘Red Flag’ Gun Law Proposal to Help Guide States


The Justice Department released proposals Monday aimed at preventing gun-related violence and deaths, including model legislation that states can use to to take firearms away from people who present a danger to themselves and others.

The so-called red flag legislation would permit law enforcement agencies or family members to petition courts for orders to remove guns from distressed individuals, a controversial action that gun-rights activists argue would be unconstitutional. Some states, including California, Oregon and Florida have their own version of red flag legislation already in place.

The DOJ proposal can’t be enacted at the federal level without Congress, but the White House and Justice Department have said they hope the move encourages more states to pass new laws quickly. The announcement Monday marks 60 days since President Joe Biden directed his administration to take action against gun violence in response to an outbreak of shootings and mass killings even as the Covid-19 pandemic wanes.

“The Justice Department is determined to take concrete steps to reduce the tragic toll of gun violence in our communities,” Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a statement. “Today we continue to deliver on our promise to help save lives while protecting the rights of law-abiding Americans.”

There have been 253 mass shootings -- defined as an event in which at least four victims were shot -- in 2021, according to research by Gun Violence Archive, which has tracked data since 2013.

The Justice Department on Monday also issued a proposed rule making clear that when a stabilizing brace is used to effectively turn a pistol into a short-barreled rifle, it is subject to the requirements of the National Firearms Act.

(Everytown for Gun Safety, which advocates for universal background checks and gun-safety measures, is backed by Michael Bloomberg, founder and majority owner of Bloomberg News parent company Bloomberg LP.)

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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