Firearms have been confiscated from gun owners more than 15,000 times in the past two years using “red flag” laws, according to The Associated Press.
The AP combed through records from 19 states and the District of Columbia and found that red flag laws had been used 15,049 times since 2020, the outlet reported. It is unclear how many individual guns were seized.
That translates to nearly 10 confiscations per 100,000 citizens, or more than 376 a year in each state and D.C.
Red flag laws allow police in some states to seize firearms from owners believed to be an imminent danger to themselves or others. The laws have mostly been passed in the last four years, and they are encouraged in a federal gun law signed by President Joe Biden, AP reported.
The laws are advocated by some as a way to stop potential shootings before they happen, but are considered by others to be an unconstitutional threat to Second Amendment rights.
Two university professors told the AP its confiscation tallies are “woefully low” and not enough to lower gun violence.
“It’s too small a pebble to make a ripple,” said Duke University sociologist Jeffrey Swanson, who has studied red flag laws nationwide. “It’s as if the law doesn’t exist.”
Experts also reportedly told the AP they didn’t know how many red flag orders it would take to make a difference, with some saying it’s “impossible to come up with an ideal number.”
Two law enforcement officials told the AP they were reluctant to use the laws, including the sheriff of Cibola County, New Mexico, which was named a “Second Amendment Sanctuary.”
“You’re showing up with 10 to 15 law enforcement officers and coming in the middle of the night and kicking in the door, and it’s already a dangerous environment,” said Cibola County Sheriff Tony Mace. “You’re dealing with someone in crisis and elevating it even more.”
“Red flag” confiscations have turned deadly before. In Maryland, police killed a man during an early morning red flag confiscation after the man became enraged and fired his gun.