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Red Flag Law Takes Effect

Rachel Baye


Maryland’s red flag law goes into effect on Monday. The law creates a process through which a court can revoke someone’s right to own a gun if the person poses an immediate threat to him or herself or to others.

At a press conference Monday, the law’s sponsor, Del. Geraldine Valentino-Smith, highlighted some of the shootings in Maryland in recent months, including one that killed five employees of the Capital Gazette newspaper in Annapolis in June.

“We don’t have a crystal ball to know if this had been enacted, if it would have prevented the tragedy at the Gazette,” she said. “But what we do know is going forward in Maryland, this piece of legislation will save lives.”

Under the new law, law enforcement and health officials, as well as family members, romantic partners, and roommates of someone believed to be a threat, can petition a court to take away a person’s firearms and bar him or her from obtaining new ones.

Advocates said the law will help prevent one of the most common forms of gun violence, suicide.

Dorothy Paugh, of Bowie, spoke about her son Peter who shot himself six years ago at the age of 25, and about her father, who killed himself more than 50 years ago, when Paugh was 9.

“Mental illness is complex, and getting treatment can be complicated and expensive,” Paugh said. “But what is simple, what is inexpensive and what is effective is keeping firearms and ammunition out of reach for those who pose a danger to themselves or to others.”

Montgomery County Sheriff Darren Popkin said the law’s impact will be immediate.

“There’s really not a day that goes by that there isn’t some sort of 9-1-1 call, some sort of concern that someone would have for either a family member or a household member,” he said.

Rachel Baye is a senior reporter and editor in WYPR's newsroom. @RachelBaye
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