Red Flag Laws: Where the Bills Stand in Each State
Since the Parkland shooting, nine states have enacted legislation that allows law enforcement to remove guns from individuals deemed a risk to themselves or others.
·March 29, 2018
· UPDATED April 12, 2019 4:03 pm EDT
Red flag laws — also known as Extreme Risk Protection Orders (ERPOs) or Gun Violence Restraining Orders (GVROs) — enable law enforcement, and sometimes family members and other concerned parties, to petition a judge to remove guns from individuals who pose a threat to themselves or others.
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Since Parkland, red flag laws have engendered support from lawmakers of both major political parties and groups on both sides of the gun-policy divide. Last year, eight new red flag bills were signed into law.
Pushback from the NRA has slowed the advance of red flag laws in several state capitols, but the sustained enthusiasm for the measures remains striking. Two bills have been signed into law so far this year, and over two dozen more have been introduced in state legislatures. There are at least four states with bills in session to expand existing red flag laws.
Please scroll on to see the status of red flag laws in your state. We’ll be updating this tracker as the legislative calendar progresses.
Status of State ‘Red Flag’ Laws
Last updated: May 16, 2019
Source: State legislatures. Interactive: Daniel Nass.
Introduced: February 14, 2019
Status: Signed into law on April 12, 2019
Colorado’s red flag law is named after Zackari Parrish, a deputy who was shot and killed by a man suffering from mental illness. The bill was a contentious topic among the state’s sheriffs weeks before it was signed into law. A number of jurisdictions passed resolutions that denounced the measure before it was signed by Governor Jared Polis, prompting Attorney General Phil Weiser to issue a statement saying, “such resolutions cannot and do not override a valid judicial order implementing state law.” An identical bill was defeated in the State, Veterans, and Military Affairs Committee last year by a party-line vote on the penultimate day of the legislative session.
Introduced: June 13, 2017
Status: Signed into law on June 27, 2018
Delaware’s law allows family members and law enforcement to file for lethal violence protection orders if they can present clear and convincing evidence that a person is at risk for shooting themselves or others. LVPOs also authorize law enforcement to search for and seize firearms if the filer can accurately describe the firearms and possible locations. This law follows the April signing of the Beau Biden Gun Violence Prevention Act, which allows police officers to remove firearms from an individual only after a mental health professional has deemed the person a danger to themselves or others. (As The Trace has reported, mental illness, by itself, is not a predictor of violent behavior.)
Bill: CS/SB 7026
Introduced: February 21, 2018
Status: Signed into law on March 9, 2018
Florida’s red flag provision came bundled in the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act, which passed with the support of 67 NRA A-rated legislators. In the weeks following the bill’s passage, Florida judges have issued numerous risk-protection orders, including one against Zachary Cruz, the brother of the Parkland gunman.
Introduced: January 26, 2017
Status: Signed into law on July 16, 2018
The proposal passed both state chambers with veto-proof majorities with one day remaining in the session. The bill sat on Republican Governor Bruce Rauner’s desk for over six weeks before being signed into law.
Introduced: February 9, 2018
Status: Signed into law on April 9, 2018
The passage of Maryland’s red flag bill came down to the wire. After debating amendments proposed by the Senate, the House of Delegates sent the final legislation to Governor Larry Hogan’s desk with less than two hours remaining in the Legislature’s 2018 session. “I firmly believe that the bill will save lives, and I’m pleased that there was a general consensus on the bill and the legislative process to get it through,” Delegate Geraldine Valentino-Smith, the bill’s chief sponsor, told The Trace in April.
Introduced: first version on January 23, 2017
Status: Signed into law on July 3, 2018
Republican Governor Charlie Baker was moved to support the bill after endorsement from the state’s police chiefs. The Massachusetts Chiefs of Police Association expressed itssupport for the proposal near the end of April. The association president, Chief Steven Wojnar, told the State House News Service that the measure could be a valuable tool for family and law officers to protect people in crisis, as well as those around them. Existing state law allows police officers to revoke the permits that Massachusetts requires for gun ownership, but makes no provision for confiscating guns in a disqualified person’s possession.
Introduced: January 1, 2018
Status: Signed into law on June 13, 2018
The bill passed the both chambers in early June with bipartisan support, and was signed by Democratic Governor Philip Murphy within a week. Murphy also signed A1181, a separate measure that requires law enforcement to confiscate a person’s guns if a mental health professional has determined the person may harm themselves or others.
New York’s red flag bill sailed through the Democrat-held state legislature in late January with a collection of other gun-related measures. It was signed into law within a month by Governor Andrew Cuomo. Last session, a similar red flag provision stalled in state Senate, which was at the time controlled by Republicans. The package of bills passed by New York lawmakers is considered the most significant set of gun laws to clear the state’s legislature since 2013, in the wake of the Sandy Hook school shooting.
Introduced: February 23, 2018
Status: Signed into law on June 1, 2018
Governor Gina Raimondo signaled her support for risk-protection legislation with an executive order, prior to the bill passing the state’s General Assembly. The Rhode Island chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union has described the bill as “well-intentioned,” but opposes it for its broad scope and “lenient standards for both applying for and granting” protective orders.
Introduced: March 30, 2018
Status: Signed into law on April 11, 2018
After three months of debate, Vermont’s bill cleared both chambers without a single vote against it. Of all the red flag laws that state legislatures have taken up this year, Vermont’s is one of the narrowest: Only a State’s Attorney or the Office of the Attorney General can request that a court issue a risk protection order.
States with red flag laws prior to 2018
California, Connecticut, Indiana, Oregon, and Washington all had versions of a red flag law before Parkland. For more on the history of the policies, read The Trace’s explainer.
This article will be updated as states close their sessions and the outcomes for remaining red flag bills become known.