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Study: Gun removal law reduces suicides in Indiana

June 4, 2018

 An Indiana law allowing authorities to temporarily remove guns from those considered a risk to others or themselves has helped reduce the state's firearm-related suicides, according to a University of Indianapolis study.

The study appeared in this month's issue of the journal Psychiatric Services and examined the state's so-called "red flag" law, The Indianapolis Star reported .

The law allows authorities to remove a gun without a warrant, said Aaron Kivisto, an assistant professor of clinical psychology and the lead author of the paper. A hearing with a judge is then scheduled to review the situation, he said.

Firearm-related suicides in the state have decreased about 7.5 percent over the past decade, Kivisto said. There were no significant increases in suicides by other means during that time period, he said.

"It's possible that some sizeable portion of suicides (prevented) are murder suicides," Kivisto said. "We just don't know that."

A majority of the times authorities have removed guns in Indianapolis under the red flag law due to fears of suicide, he said. Authorities have also removed guns in cases of someone diagnosed with active psychosis or in domestic violence cases.

A person can become a high risk after clearing a background check to own a gun. The red flag law is meant to fill that gap, Kivisto said. He said he hopes to focus future research on how such laws could lower the homicide rate.

"Policy makers working to reduce gun violence benefit from data in helping them weigh the balance between individual risks and rights," Kivisto said. "There are a lot of avenues we would like to go down."

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