Justice Department Issues Guidance To Make It Easier For States To Pass Red Flag Gun Laws

The Department of Justice issued new guidance Monday for states to draft red flag laws that would permit courts to seize firearms in certain cases.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) announced its proposed guidance for states seeking to craft their own red flag statutes, publishing model legislation to use as a framework. Red flag laws, also known as extreme risk protection orders, authorize courts to remove firearms from individuals at risk of harming themselves or others.

The DOJ also clarified certain regulations governing short-barreled rifles which, under the National Firearms Act, are subject to heightened regulation as they are easily concealable, according to the announcement. The suggested clarification would specify exactly when a pistol becomes a short-barreled rifle.

“The Justice Department is determined to take concrete steps to reduce the tragic toll of gun violence in our communities,” said Attorney General Merrick Garland. “We welcome the opportunity to work with communities in the weeks and months ahead in our shared commitment to end gun violence.”

The DOJ’s proposed red flag law guidelines allow immediate family members and police to ask a court to issue an immediate restraining order, which would temporarily prevent individuals at-risk of harming themselves or others from obtaining a firearm. Courts would also be permitted to hold hearings which would decide whether or not to ban individuals from accessing firearms for much longer periods if certain state-level standards are met.

The announcement follows executive actions passed by President Joe Biden in April aimed at regulating ghost-guns, or self-assembled firearms, and redesignating pistols with stabilizing braces, as short barrel rifles, affirming the administration’s commitment to gun control.

Moreover, David Chipman, Biden’s nominee for director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF), has routinely voiced support for wide-ranging firearms restrictions, vowing to ban any rifle with a detachable magazine and chambering larger than .22-caliber. Chipman previously worked as a policy adviser for gun control organization Giffords.

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