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Red Flag Laws

As we start a new decade, the debate between gun rights and gun control proponents continues to be a source of controversy that attracts media attention. CBS News reports that, according to the Gun Violence Archive (GVA), there were over 33,000 acts of violence committed with guns in 2019. In 2017, according to information published by the Pew Research Center, close to 40,000 people across the gun United States died from gun related injuries in 2017. Pew Research also reports that between 2014 and 2017, the number of gun murders increased by over 30%; additionally, between 2006 and 2017, the number of gun suicides across the United States increased over 40%.

Now that we have turned the calendar to 2020, there is no doubt that measures to address the issue of gun safety and concerns over gun rights will continue to be at the forefront of national and state news. Lobbyists on both sides will continue to seek legislation to support the interests of both gun rights and gun control advocates at every level.

At the state level, among the gun safety measures that some states have turned to is the enactment of “red flag” laws. These laws, also known as extreme risk protection orders (ERPOs), are laws that generally allow for firearms to be confiscated from individuals considered to be at risk for violent behavior. According to a recent CBS News article, seventeen states, as well as the District of Columbia, either have implemented or will soon implement such laws. Maryland is one of the states that has enacted a Red Flag law.

Maryland’s Red Flag Law

Maryland’s Red Flag law became effective on October 1, 2018. According to the information provided by the Maryland General Assembly, this law has four basic elements:

  • It allows certain individuals close to an individual, including spouses, other relatives, partners, legal guardians, law enforcement officers and medical professionals, to file a petition for an extreme risk protective order
  • It requires individuals filing the petition to provide information on the danger, including the number, types, and location of any known firearms at issue
  • It gives a judge authority to enter orders, both temporary and final, that will require the turnover of firearms. Final order can be for a period of up to a year, and are subject to extension
  • It provides for law enforcement officers to remove firearms from individual’s custody in accordance with this law.

Maryland’s Red Flag Law; Some Facts and Figures

According to the Capital Gazette, from the time of the Red Flag law’s enactment in October 2018, through the end of last summer (August 2019), the following five counties had the highest reported number of petitions under the Red Flag law:

  • Anne Arundel (160 petitions)
  • Baltimore County (126 petitions)
  • Prince George’s County (90 petitions)
  • Harford County (76 petitions)
  • Montgomery County (69 petitions)

If you would like more information about Red Flag laws, or have questions about these or other weapons laws in Maryland, contact The Law Office of Robert R. Castro to speak to an experienced criminal defense lawyers.