Academic Minute Podcast
John Tures, LaGrange College – Red Flag Laws
Red flag laws may become more common across the U.S.
John Tures, professor of political science at LaGrange College, examines if they help lower gun deaths when in place.
John A. Tures is a political science professor at LaGrange College in Georgia. Before that, he worked for a defense contractor in Washington, DC. He taught at the University of Delaware and received his Ph.D. from Florida State University. He has had articles appear in academic journals and newspaper columns.
Red Flag Laws
Congress just passed its first meaningful gun legislation in several decades. This includes funding for red flag laws. Should states that don’t have them adopt them? Here’s what the research shows.
Red flag laws vary from state to state, but generally allow a judge to declare a person unable to possess or purchase a firearm for a period of time. Requests for a risk protection order or RPO can come from family, law enforcement, a doctor or relative, depending on the state.
Red flag laws started in Connecticut, but really took off after the Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida in 2018. Currently, 19 states have them on the books. More could join them, now that the House and Senate passed a bill authorizing $750 million in federal funding to help states administer or pass one.
Have they been successful? I compared CDC firearm death rates in the 19 states that have red flag laws to the 31 states that don’t have them. For 2020, the states with the seven lowest gun death rates (homicide, suicide, accident), all had red flag laws in place. 14 of the 15 states with the highest gun death rates for 2020 did not have a red flag law.
I also compared the gun death rates of states with red flag laws and those without red flag laws from 2018 to 2020. If the whole country had red flag laws in 2020, we would have almost 20,000 fewer gun deaths by my estimate than we would have if the entire country did not have a red flag law. We would also have 55,000 fewer gun deaths overall from 2018 to 2020 by that same estimation.
|Firearm Death Rates, If Whole Country Had….|
|2020||2019||2018||Total Estimated Lives|
With Red Flag Laws
|No Red Flag Laws||58036.77||50281.12||45073.87|
|Red Flag Laws||37321.19||28497.02||32614.61|
|Estimated Lives Saved|
Red Flag Laws