In a bid to combat gun violence, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced on Feb. 14 that it will hand out more than $231 million to fund crisis intervention court proceedings, including extreme risk protection orders (ERPOs), also known as “red flag laws.”
Funds for the program were allocated via the 2022 Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, which has been touted as the most significant federal gun regulation since the 1994 Assault Weapons Ban.
“The Justice Department is working relentlessly to protect communities from violent crime and the gun violence that often drives it, and the Byrne State Crisis Intervention Program is an important part of that effort,” U.S. Attorney General Merrick B. Garland said in a DOJ press release. “These awards will support the kinds of crisis intervention programs that we know save lives and help protect children, families, and communities across the country from senseless acts of gun violence.”
Red flag laws allow law enforcement, family members or medical professionals to petition a court to remove an individual’s access to firearms if they believe that person may be a risk to themselves or others.
Supporters of ERPOs argue that the laws remove weapons from the hands of people who could become violent. Opponents believe the laws violate the Constitution’s due process guarantee, stripping an individual of their rights without having their case heard in a court of law.
President Joe Biden signed the bill into law just weeks after a tragic shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, TX claimed the lives of 19 students and two teachers.
“The Department of Justice’s strategy to reduce violent crime and gun violence includes prioritizing support for successful, evidence-based programs,” Deputy Attorney General Lisa O. Monaco said in the DOJ’s statement. “The grants announced today invest in and highlight proven state and local violence prevention and intervention programs, that will make our communities safer.”
The DOJ also says that red flag laws and programs must be implemented in accordance with the Constitution, and projects funded under the program must demonstrate they have taken sufficient measures to protect the constitutional rights of people subjected to a crisis intervention program.
Editor’s Note: A previous version of this article mistakenly claimed that Sen. Marco Rubio sponsored the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act.