Red-flag laws thwart suicides. But can they catch would-be mass killers? – The Washington Post

NDT was right, if graceless.

«Suicidal thoughts and behavior are common in the population; mass shootings are not. More than 1 million Americans attempt suicide each year, and 47,173 of them died in 2017. By comparison, in the same year there were 11 public mass shooting incidents, claiming 117 lives (58 in the Las Vegas Strip massacre alone).


When police officers serve a “risk warrant” to separate guns from someone, they often encounter a person in crisis. After removing any guns, officers typically transport the individual to an emergency room for evaluation, where the person may be admitted for inpatient psychiatric care and then referred to outpatient follow-up. In our Connecticut study, the proportion of gun-removal subjects who were receiving outpatient mental health treatment doubled from the year before to the year after guns were removed — to about 24 percent from 12 percent. This alone could have saved lives; for some, gun removal was a doorway out of a dark place.


ERPOs can also prevent suicides by limiting access to the most lethal method of self-injury. People who try to end their lives by other means usually survive; if they use a gun, there is almost never a second chance. This is why a mere shift in the distribution of suicide methods — away from guns to more survivable means — could save many lives. If ERPOs were to be passed in every state, far fewer suicidal people would have their hands on a gun in a moment of despair. And far fewer would die.»

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