Read the FPC Policy Brief: Red Flag Laws (PDF)


Red flag laws are not new – various jurisdictions began enacting them in 1999, and there are eighteen of them in place to date. However, in the wake of recent tragedies, both Republicans and Democrats, like Senators Lindsey Graham and Richard Blumenthal, have been attempting to pass more of them at both the state and federal levels.

There is no sufficient evidence showing that these laws have any effect on crime prevention, and though legislators claim these laws benefit the mentally ill and the general public, the same politicians won’t admit that this class of legislation is invariably problematic.

Initial firearm seizure hearings are usually held without the respondent’s knowledge, leaving them defenseless. Even if the respondent were present, the burden of proof for the State is remarkably low for the initial seizure hearing (especially considering that no crime has been committed), and even lower for the subsequent “final hearing.” 

Red flag laws are also inherently discriminatory because of the disproportionate burden on the poor; respondents are often buried in legal costs while attempting to recover property which was rightfully theirs to begin with.

And perhaps what is most ironic is that the legislation itself stigmatizes mental illness, discouraging individuals from receiving help for fear of being denied their constitutionally protected rights.

To learn more about the history of red flag laws and FPC’s policy position, you can read more about them in FPC's Policy Brief on Red Flag Laws here.