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Tragic Shooting in Baltimore County Highlights Importance of Utilizing Extreme Risk Laws

May 11, 2021

On Saturday, a man shot four of his neighbors, three fatally, in the suburb of Woodlawn, Baltimore County. Although the motives of the shooting are still unknown, the three people fatally shot were immigrants from Peru, El Salvador, and Nepal, respectively. 

Based on reporting that the shooter was known to law enforcement, had a history of disputes with neighbors and threatening behavior, and was known to have weapons, law enforcement officers could have utilized an extreme risk law. Maryland’s extreme risk law gives law enforcement officers and family members the power to seek a court order to temporarily prevent someone in crisis from accessing firearms when a situation like this one arises. 

Extreme risk laws are one of the most powerful tools for preventing mass shootings, school shootings, and firearm suicides by creating a way to act when a person is in crisis and poses a threat to themselves or others, before warning signs escalate into tragedies. Although each situation is different, extreme risk laws like the one enacted in Maryland are an important tool that can help prevent this kind of tragedy.

What to know about extreme risk laws: 

  • Shooters often display warning signs: In 54 percent of mass shootings, the shooter exhibited dangerous warning signs before the shooting.
  • States around the country are increasingly turning to extreme risk laws as a common-sense way to help reduce gun violence. Since the beginning of 2018, following the school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, 14 states and Washington, DC have passed Extreme Risk laws, bringing the total number of states with these laws to 19.
  • Between 1999 and 2019, 8,886 Extreme Risk petitions were filed nationwide. The majority of these petitions (7,119 or 80%) were filed in 2018 and 2019.

What to know about gun violence in Maryland: 

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