After pushing to secure its creation in the bipartisan gun safety package passed last summer, Congressman Salud Carbajal (CA-24) today lauded the first awards by the new federal fund aimed at supporting the implementation of red-flag laws and other gun violence reduction programs.
The $750 million fund created by the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, the gun safety package passed by Congress last June, was tapped by the Department of Justice today to deliver $29 million to California, the largest award for any U.S. state.
“Having a red-flag law like California’s on the books does not prevent mass shootings or violence just because it exists. That’s why I fought for half a decade to ensure states could get funds like those awarded today to implement red-flag laws – to help train and educate Californians about the tools they have at their disposal to intervene in a dangerous situation – before warning signs become deadly incidents,” said Congressman Carbajal. “Since I came to Congress, I advocated for us to create this fund to support red-flag laws because the data proves that these crisis intervention tools work. And every day that we improve awareness of these tools, which have been implemented in red and blue states alike and which have been repeatedly proven to uphold due process, the better chance we have at reducing gun deaths in our communities. I’m proud to see California receive this first infusion of funds from the law that I proudly helped create last year – and look forward to working with our state and local justice systems to put them to the best use possible.”
Carbajal championed the creation of a fund to help create and administer red-flag laws through his Extreme Risk Protection Order Act, legislation that was co-led in the U.S. Senate by Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA).
Carbajal has championed this legislation since coming to Congress in 2017, not long after the 2014 Isla Vista shooting inspired California to adopt one of the country’s first red flag laws.
In past years, Carbajal’s measure has enjoyed bipartisan support in the House and has received the endorsement of multiple law enforcement agencies, teachers, and doctors.
California’s Red Flag Law: the Gun Violence Restraining Order
California’s law has been used to prevent mass shootings at workplaces and in hundreds of other instances of threatened violence.
Last year, the California State Legislature and Governor Gavin Newsom approved an expansion of its red flag law – called a Gun Violence Restraining Order (GVRO) – to allow eligible petitioners to include additional family members, roommates, individuals with a dating or co-parental relationship with a person who may pose a risk to themselves or others.
California’s law also allows a law enforcement officer, immediate family member, employer, coworker, or teacher to make a GVRO petition before a judge for the temporary removal of a firearm.
More information on California’s Gun Violence Restraining Orders can be found here.
A recent survey of mass shootings and other community violence by the United States Secret Service found that the majority of attackers exhibited behavior prior to their attack that elicited concerns from the same social circles that are permitted to petition for a GVRO, like family, coworkers, and friends.
The funds provided through this new federal fund will allow California and other states to improve awareness and training related to its red-flag laws, establish new red-flag laws, and implement other programs and procedures to curb gun violence.
Since Florida’s Republican legislature implemented their red flag law in the wake of the Parkland school shooting in 2018, law enforcement has used extreme risk laws more than 8,000 times to restrict and remove firearms from dangerous situations with known threats of violence and suicide, undoubtedly saving countless lives in the process.
In states like Indiana and Connecticut, the passage of a red flag law was followed by a notable decline in suicide by firearm.
Currently, 19 states and the District of Columbia have some form of red-flag laws. The Department of Justice today awarded over $231 million in total to 49 states, U.S. territories, and the District of Columbia.