What To Know Today

Successes, implementation challenges greet Colorado’s red flag law. The state’s emergency risk protection order statute lets family members or law enforcement petition a court to temporarily remove guns from a person deemed a threat to themselves or others. The law went into effect on January 1, 2020, and researchers from the University of Colorado and Denver Health Medical Center obtained court records from last year’s 109 statewide petitions. Their findings, published in the journal Injury Epidemiology, found that for ERPOs to have “maximum effect” in preventing firearm injuries, authorities need a way to ensure “robust implementation” — an uphill battle in Colorado after a wave of state counties (37 out of 64) declared themselves Second Amendment sanctuaries, and many said they would not enforce the law. Other notable observations in the write-up:

  • Out of the 109 total petitions, courts granted 61 with a temporary ERPO of up to two weeks. After the two-week period, 49 of those were subsequently extended to a full yearlong ERPO. 
  • 85 percent of petition subjects were men, and 80 percent were white
  • 85 percent of requests filed by law enforcement were granted, compared to only 15 percent from household members
  • 2A sanctuary counties had a file rate of nearly 1.5 per 100,000 people, while non-2A sanctuary countries filed at a rate of more than 2 per 100,000
  • There were four cases where a petitioner falsely characterized their relationship to the subject; none of these petitions were granted
  • In all, the state’s rate of yearlong ERPO petitions — about 1 per 100,000 residents — fell below rates in several other red flag states, including Florida (9.4. per 100,000), Maryland (8.2 per 100,000), and California (1.8 per 100,000). Researchers said the pandemic and in-person filing requirements last year may have decreased usage in Colorado. 

Related: Last week, we covered a study from the UC Davis Violence Prevention Research Program investigating how California’s five-year-old red flag law had been hamstrung by underfunding and inconsistent implementation.

A Georgia police department is training officers to “shoot to incapacitate.”The Washington Post reports on the program longtime police chief Louis Dekmar is instituting in LaGrange, Georgia. Bucking a core tenet of American policing that says officers should respond to a perceived deadly threat by shooting at someone’s “center mass” — often their chest, and often fatal — Dekmar is training his officers in the town of 31,000 to consider aiming shots at people’s legs, pelvis, or abdomen. If that is enough to stop an individual from harming others, the officers stop there; if not, they consider other targets. “Every time we avoid taking a life, we maintain trust,” Dekmar said. In the first officer shooting since the training launched, the department says an officer wounded a machete-wielding man by shooting him in the abdomen and legs. “He fell to the ground before I got to center mass,” the officer who was involved told the Post, “and that’s essentially what saved his life.”

“Be a man, walk away”: A football coach tries to keep his kids safe from gun violence. Washington, D.C.’s Kevin McGill has lost more than 20 friends to violence and at one point was nearly a victim himself. But none crushed him like the death of Davon McNeal, the 11-year-old star player who died in July 2020 after being hit with a stray bullet. In a searing portrait of compassion amid cruelty and carelessness, The Washington Post explores McGill’s message of leadership, nonviolence, and compassion for his kids.

Federal judge dismisses criminal charges against U.S. Park Police over fatal shooting. Two officers shot and killed unarmed motorist Bijan Ghaisar in 2017 after a collision and pursuit through a residential area in Fairfax County, Virginia. A federal judge in Alexandria on Friday ruled that the officers who shot him numerous times at close range after an attempted stop reasonably feared they were in danger when Ghaiser pulled away from them. The judge said their pursuit of Ghaisar was “necessary and proper” to stop a “dangerous” man who wouldn’t pull over. “Today is another affirmation that the system is built to cover up wrongdoing by police in our country,” Ghaisar’s family said. State prosecutors say they will appeal.

Data Point

12 — the number of states this year that passed some form of a Second Amendment sanctuary law to restrict enforcement of federal gun laws, according to a count by the gun reform group Giffords. [Axios]