The Weekly Reload Podcast

David French on Red Flag Laws in the Wake of the Buffalo Massacre

May 23rd, 2022

David French has long advocated for the adoption of red flag laws to prevent mass shootings. In the wake of the Buffalo shooting, where an unused red flag law may have stopped that massacre, he seemed like a good person to discuss the policy's advantages and drawbacks.

French argued red flag laws, otherwise known as Extreme Risk Protection Orders (ERPO), provide a kind of stopgap between releasing somebody who is troubled and going through the more complex process of involuntarily committing them. He said they provide a way to intervene with somebody who has demonstrated they are a risk to themselves or others. The Buffalo shooter would have met that standard and been barred from buying the gun he used to carry out his attack had anybody filed for an ERPO against him, French said.

He argued lack of knowledge about how the laws work was likely the reason why it wasn't used in this case and said the governor's call for mandatory police training on New York's red flag law. However, he opposes her plan to require all police file for ERPOs on the basis of probable cause.

French said he wants to see a higher level of scrutiny, like clear and convincing evidence, and a faster turnaround for a hearing with the person subject to the order than the 10 days New York current uses as its standard. But he said the due process concerns many gun-rights advocates have raised around ERPOs are ones that can be addressed and the core of the policy makes sense.

However, he said President Joe Biden's call for a national "assault weapons" ban in response to Buffalo does not make sense. French argued that not only was the previous federal ban ineffective but the guns they target, such as the AR-15, are far more popular today than they were at the time. He further said AR-15s are not the most common guns used in mass shootings and are very uncommonly used in crime overall.

Plus, Contributing Writer Jake Fogleman and I look at the gun industry's latest effort in Ukraine as well as an ATF report on the industry's huge growth in recent years.