Checking the facts on “red flag laws”


The latest research into “red flag laws” and other gun safety measures was highlighted at a recent webinar series for journalists produced by the Poynter Institute for Media Studies and its PolitiFact fact-checking arm.

The two-part series – offered as Congress considers a response to the recent mass shootings in Uvalde, Texas; Buffalo, New York; and elsewhere – featured some of the most prominent gun-violence researchers in the country: Daniel Webster of the John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Garen Wintemute of the University of California-Davis, and Jake Charles from Duke University’s Center for Firearms Law.

Joining the academics were journalists who cover gun violence and its impacts, including Jennifer Mascia of the national nonprofit news outlet the Trace, California-based

Abené Clayton of the Guardian, and Johnny Madgaleno, an Indianapolis Star reporter whose series of investigative stories on the failure to enforce “red flag laws” was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize this year.

Formally known as extreme risk protection orders, or ERPOs, “red flag laws” provide civil courts a means to temporarily remove guns from people who pose a potential danger to themselves or others. In the wake of several recent and high-profile shootings, policy makers have been considering offering new grants to encourage states to adopt such laws. Nineteen states already have a version.

PolitiFact published a fact-check on “red flag laws,” found here, and a story with tips for journalists on how to cover gun violence and the proposals being debated, found here. Recordings of the webinars can be found by signing up here.

Poynter is an independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit school for journalists and a publisher of original journalism. The Foundation sponsored the Poynter project through its Journalism program.

About The Joyce Foundation

Joyce is a nonpartisan, private foundation that invests in evidence-informed public policies and strategies to advance racial equity and economic mobility for the next generation in the Great Lakes region.

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