On Wednesday, Hawaii became the latest state to enact an Extreme Risk Law, joining the 16 other states and the District of Columbia with these life-saving laws on the books.
The spread of this policy, also known as Red Flag laws, is one of the clearest signs of the country’s sea change on gun safety.
On the day of last year’s mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., just five states had Red Flag laws on the books. But in the wake of the Parkland tragedy, lawmakers in Florida and elsewhere quickly enacted these laws, which empower family members and law enforcement to petition a court to temporarily prevent firearm access when there is evidence someone poses an extreme risk to self of others.
In addition to their potential to prevent future mass shootings, Red Flag laws have been shown to be especially effective in reducing the risk of firearm suicide.
Since the Parkland tragedy, Florida, Vermont, Maryland, Illinois, Massachusetts, New York, Rhode Island, New Jersey, Delaware, Colorado, Nevada, the District of Columbia and now Hawaii have enacted Extreme Risk laws. Five of these have been signed by Republican governors.
The enactment of these laws reflects just how many people were moved by the activism of student leaders from Marjory Stoneman Douglas and other students across the country. It also follows years of grassroots organizing from groups like Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America.
With federal Red Flag legislation pending, the response from red and blue states alike is also increasing the pressure on Congress to act.
“That’s how social issues work in this country,” Moms Demand Action founder Shannon Watts told Pacific Standard in a story published last week, speaking about the slew of slates passing gun safety laws this year. “Congress is where this work ends, not where it begins.”
Please reach out for more information or to request an interview with a policy expert or a volunteer who has pushed for this policy.