The Department of Justice is disbursing some $231 million to help states and DC administer “red-flag laws” and other programs as part of the bipartisan gun reform legislation passed last year.
Red-flag laws, also known as extreme risk protection orders, work like this: if a person exhibits behavior suggesting that they might be a threat to themselves or others, such as expressions of suicide or violence, then a family member, school official, or police officer can secure a court order permitting police to seize their guns and prohibit them from purchasing any during the length of the order.
The DOJ announced the disbursement of the funds on Tuesday, five years to the day since a mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida left 14 teenagers and three adults dead. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) introduced a “red flag” bill in that state following the shooting, and then-Gov. Rick Scott (R) signed it into law law that same year, along with a ban on gun sales to those under age 21.
In June, soon after the mass shooting at Robb Elementary in Uvalde, Texas left 19 children and two teachers dead—the deadliest school shooting since Sandy Hook in Newtown, Connecticut in 2012—and after the racist-driven shooting at a supermarket in Buffalo, New York left 10 Black people dead, Biden signed the first major federal gun safety legislation in decades.
The so-called Bipartisan Safer Communities Act had been introduced by Republican Sens. John Cornyn of Texas and Thom Tillis of North Carolina and Democratic Sens. Chris Murphy of Connecticut and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona. It passed along bipartisan lines in both the House and the Senate.
The legislation included a total of $1.4 billion in funding to the DOJ over five years for gun violence prevention measures.
Attorney General Merrick Garland said the funding will “help protect children, families, and communities across the country from senseless acts of gun violence.”