The U.S. Department of Justice recently approved more than $200 million in funding to help states combat gun violence.
The funds will aid in the administration and enforcement of “red-flag laws” and other crisis-intervention programs as part of bipartisan legislation passed by Congress last summer.
Red-flag laws allow law enforcement in 19 states and D.C. to temporarily remove guns from people who are showing potentially violent or self-destructive behavior.
“This funding will reduce gun violence and save lives,” White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre explained.
The move comes after the fifth anniversary of the school shooting in Parkland, Florida.
“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 a statement. “The grants announced today invest in and highlight proven state and local violence prevention and intervention programs, that will make our communities safer.”
Red-flag laws vary state by state, but generally they allow family members, health-care providers, school officials or law enforcement to obtain a court order from a judge to take a person’s weapons for up to a year.
Critics of the laws have argued that they can be used to infringe upon Americans’ Second Amendment rights.
According to an analysis from the Associated Press, however, red-flag laws are underenforced.
The DOJ hopes the funding will increase awareness of red-flag laws among citizens and law enforcement, citing the shooting at an LGBT nightclub in Colorado Springs, Colorado, as an example. In that incident, the shooter had allegedly threatened his mother with a homemade bomb a year and a half earlier, but no public records indicate that the law was triggered in the state.
The funding is part of $1.4 billion provided to the DOJ for gun violence prevention measures for the next five years.
The legislation passed last June raised requirements for young people to buy guns and denied firearms for domestic abusers. The bill also increased funding for mental health programs and schools.
Attorney General Merrick Garland said the funds will “help protect children, families, and communities across the country from senseless acts of gun violence.”
“Protecting communities from gun crime is an urgent public safety challenge and a critical part of the Justice Department’s work to ensure that everyone in this country can live free from the fear of violence,” Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta said in a statement. “The resources we are announcing today will give communities the tools they need to prevent firearm violence and deliver support to those who are at risk of committing or being victimized by gun crime.”