BALTIMORE (WJZ) — In the wake of two mass shootings, the president has proposed expanding the use of laws that can temporarily take guns from people who pose an immediate danger.
Maryland has had one of these “red flag” laws in place since October 2018. Since that time, 788 people have been served with what is known here as an “extreme risk protective order.”
In Maryland, 788 people have been served with an Extreme Risk Protective Order—under the state’s #RedFlagLaw in place since October 2018. Anne Arundel Co leads the state with 128. Baltimore City—29. Red flag allows weapons to be seized if owner poses immediate danger. @wjz pic.twitter.com/gcX1QkS30Q
— Mike Hellgren (@HellgrenWJZ) August 6, 2019
Montgomery County Sheriff Darren Popkin is an expert on the law in Maryland.
“There’s no doubt that this law has saved lives,” he told WJZ Investigator Mike Hellgren. “Most of these orders are coming from family members. They want their loved ones to be there tomorrow.”
Police, relatives, roommates and health care professionals can flag someone they believe is a severe threat. A judge must approve the order.
Only then can weapons be seized for one year. The order can be extended for six months longer if the court believes there is good cause after an additional hearing.
Numbers WJZ obtained show — since the law went into effect — Anne Arundel County leads the state in red flag protective orders with 128.
Baltimore County has had 118, Harford County 70, Carroll County 32, Baltimore City 29 and Howard County 22.
The emergency orders can be enforced within hours.
“One of the good parts of Maryland’s law is the accessibility to get the order. In Maryland, unlike other states, you can get hem 24 hours a day, 7 days a week,” Sheriff Popkin said.
In only one case — in Ferndale last year — did a seizure result in violence. In that incident, Anne Arundel County police shot and killed a man who fired at them when they came to serve the order.
Authorities believe they may have prevented at least 4 school shootings. The details of many of those cases are private.
Red flag laws are growing in popularity, with more than a dozen states having some version. Sheriff Popkin said he’s been contacted by authorities in 25 other states, which are considering red flag laws with bipartisan support.