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Study: California's 'red flag' law able to take gun from potential mass shooters

Researchers found Gun Violence Restraining Orders were utilized for 58 threatened mass shootings and for threats of suicide and hurting others.

CALIFORNIA, USA — After weeks of closed-door talks at the U.S. Senate, there could be a significant amount of new federal dollars to expand "red flag" laws. These so-called "red flag" laws are meant to prevent people from having access to the weapons that could allow them to commit a mass murder or suicide.

In 2016, California enacted its "red flag" law, known as gun violence restraining orders, or "GRVOs." Veronica Pear, a UC Davis assistant professor who has studied GVROs since 2016, said they've been used to remove weapons from people who have threatened mass shootings.

She recently published a study analyzing the GVROs filed from 2016 to 2018. Researchers found they were utilized for 58 threatened mass shootings and for threats of suicide and hurting others. Six of the 58 mass shooting threats targeted minors and schools.

"That’s really the value of a GVRO. Is that they can come in under these tense circumstances when people are at the most high risk of harming themselves or others, and they can de-escalate by removing the weapon that would really cause the most harm," Pear said.

While no single law by itself will solve gun violence, she said California's "red flag" laws could be a model for other states trying to tackle gun violence.

The Sacramento Police Department said their officers applied for gun violence restraining orders as one of the many tools available to help address the threat of gun violence. 

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