MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Nationwide protests are taking place in the wake of mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio. In Minnesota, there are new demands for “red flag” laws to disarm dangerous people.
Throughout 2019 at the Minnesota Capitol, hundreds of gun safety demonstrators swarmed the legislature demanding a series of gun control measures, including “red flag” laws allowing police to temporarily disarm people in crisis who may be mentally ill and dangerous to themselves or others.
The Democratic-controlled House approved a red flag law, but it was rejected by the Republican-controlled Senate.
Though Minnesota did not act, other states did – 17 states and Washington, D.C. enacted extreme risk protection laws, including Connecticut, Vermont, Massachusetts, Indiana, Maryland, Illinois, California, Rhode Island, Florida, Washington, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Delaware, Nevada, Hawaii and Colorado.
After mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton, President Donald Trump says he’ll support it, too.
Studies show red flag laws reduced suicides in Connecticut and Indiana, but experts say mental illness does not cause mass shootings, and fewer than 5% of all gun-related killings are linked to mental illness. Someone who is mentally ill is more likely to hurt themselves than others.
In Minnesota, the vast majority of firearms deaths are not from homicides or accidental shootings. Most firearms deaths in Minnesota, by far, are from suicide.
In 2017, the last year data is available, the Minnesota Health Department reports 465 firearms deaths in the state – 365 were suicide: one per day. That’s 78% of all firearms deaths, even though suicides are preventable and mental illness is treatable.
Here are some of the sources we used for this Reality Check: