FSU criminology researcher awarded $1 million to study effects of red flag laws

June 3, 2024

A researcher at Florida State University’s College of Criminology and Criminal Justice (CCCJ) was awarded $1 million in funding to study red flag laws, which allow law enforcement agencies to petition for the temporary removal of firearms from those deemed a danger to themselves or others.

The vast majority of Americans support use of the laws, said Emma Fridel, the study’s principal investigator and assistant professor of criminology.

“Versions of these laws are used in 19 states and they are overwhelmingly popular, with over three-quarters of Americans —including the majority of gun owners— supporting their use.” Fridel said. “But until now there has been little study on their effects. 

The U.S. Department of Justice National Institute of Justice awarded $700,000 to the study focusing on interpersonal violence. A companion grant from the National Collaborative on Gun Violence Research added an additional $360,000 to expand the scope of the study to include suicide.

Florida lawmakers passed red flag legislation in the wake of the 2018 school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Since then, the state has emerged as a national leader in using the laws, which are also referred to as risk protection orders (RPO).

“We think using Florida as a data source is a major strength,” Fridel said. “Florida is racially and ethnically diverse and a leader in red flag laws. We will be able to look into RPO usage in ways that others have not.”

In keeping with the College’s emphasis on translational research, Fridel said the study’s findings will provide a clear and sweeping look at the effects of RPOs.

“The scope of the study is massive,” Fridel said. “We will be looking at individual factors such as who gets an RPO and under what circumstances. Where is this happening and, ultimately, do they work?”

Fridel said research will include a case-by-case review of the 15,000 RPOs issued in Florida since 2018, as well as focus groups with law enforcement officials.

Former CCCJ associate professor Jillian Turanovic, who is now at the University of Colorado Boulder, will join Fridel in leading the study. This research is supported by the National Institute of Justice and the National Collaborative on Gun Violence Research.

For more information on this work, visit 'A Mixed-Methods Evaluation of the Impacts and Implementation of Florida's Risk Protection Order Law, 2018-2023' and the NIJ award page.

This project is being supported by Award No. 15PNIJ-23-GG-02406-BSCI, awarded by the National Institute of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice. The opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice or the National Collaborative on Gun Violence Research.

The views expressed in this release are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the view of the National Collaborative on Gun Violence Research.