There has been a lot of discussion lately about the recent “Restraining Gun Laws” being considered in a number of states, including New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Virginia, Wisconsin, Illinois, Missouri, Minnesota, Michigan, California, and perhaps Massachusetts. California’s law went into effect on January 1st of this year.
The strong support of the law comes after a study by Jeffrey Swanson, a psychiatry professor at Duke University’s School of Medicine and nine other researchers conducted a study that showed in one state, Connecticut, gun removals from high-risk people may have prevented up to 100 suicides. You can read the full article written about this study and the latest updates on this new initiative in The Trace, “Laws That Allow for Temporarily Removing Guns from High-Risk People Linked to a Reduction in Suicides.”
“The Connecticut law allows police to confiscate guns for up to one year if a judge issues a “risk warrant” — a civil court action that does not create a criminal record — based on a law enforcement affidavit showing probable cause that someone will harm himself or others. Judges must consider recent threats, or acts of violence, and may weigh other factors, like drug and alcohol abuse. Persons subject to these gun violence prevention orders are also prohibited from further possessing firearms.
A lot of times the people who have their weapons seized are not having a bad life — they’re having a bad moment,” a former Connecticut prosecutor quoted in the study said.
Another benefit of the Connecticut law, the study found, was that in 44 percent of cases, the request for a warrant resulted in the subject receiving psychiatric treatment they might otherwise not have received.
In Connecticut, police officers told researchers that the law initially floundered because it was unknown to residents and was too labor intensive for cops; in small departments, the requirement that two on-duty officers appear before a judge could pose major logistical challenges.”
Based on the initial discussions, is this another law that will take the country by storm and many states will follow suit and adopt such a law? Only time will tell but it’s important to be aware of these kind of discussions and initiatives being introduced.
One of the other areas to be considered is whether this is another law that will be passed but not implemented because of the amount of manpower it takes to enforce it. Another question is whether this is potentially a law that gives the legal system too much power in making decisions on who can and should own firearms. If a judge decides someone shouldn’t possess a firearm, they can issue a restraining order to confiscate the firearms…and potentially denying the gun owner the ability to own firearms in the future.
Overall, the law has the potential for sweeping powers to the judicial system while at the same time allowing for the safety of others if someone is truly on the edge of a mental illness condition. If it can help save lives while not violating individuals’ rights to own firearms, it can be a positive for many people. Time will tell when the law is implemented and enforced and given time to see if it has the same impact the Duke researchers found in their study. Regardless of the outcome, always remember…Be Prepared. Be Smart. Be Safe.