The first wave of funding authorized in last year's federal gun-safety legislation will send more than $231 million to states for crisis intervention projects, such as red-flag programs, reports The Hill. President Biden announced the Department of Justice grant program at an event marking the five-year anniversary of the Parkland, Fl., school shooting. Biden said that extreme risk protection orders, or so-called red-flag laws, “could potentially have stopped shooters in Parkland and other tragedies.” The $231 million will go to 49 states to help them create and run such programs as well as mental health and substance use treatment courts and veterans’ treatment courts. Biden also renewed his calls for Congress to pass legislation that would ban assault weapons, require background checks on all gun sales, and eliminate “immunity for gun manufacturers who knowingly put weapons of war on our streets.”
The funding is part of the $1.4 billion from the legislation provided to the Justice Department over five years for gun violence prevention measures, the Associated Press reports. An Associated Press analysis found red-flag laws are often underused even as shootings and gun deaths soar in the U.S. Biden has long championed the laws, which allow a judge to take away a firearm from someone based on the suspicion that the owner could use it to harm themselves or others. Family members, police or doctors, have to petition the court to take away the firearm, an action that can result in police removing it for up to a year. The 19-year-old Parkland shooter was known to have telegraphed warning signs, including tips to the FBI and having been the subject of multiple 911 calls. Some critics fear red-flag laws could be used to wrongly curtail Second Amendment rights. The Justice Department said the program has checks in place to ensure due process.