No Effect from “Red Flag” Law in California: JAMA Study

Danger Red Flag Warning
Danger Red Flag Warning

U.S.A.-(– On April 5, 2022, the JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association) Network Open published a study attempting to find a reduction in firearms fatal and non-fatal injuries associated with the very aggressive implementation of a “Red Flag” law, also known as a gun violence restraining order or GVRO, in San Diego County, California.

The results surprised and appear to have shocked them. No statistical association existed, although the data was the most comprehensive to date, and the study was designed to find such an association.

No such association existed.

The study was funded by various contributions from philanthropic and government sources.  Dr. Garen Wintemute is the most well-known of the authors. It appears most of the analysis was done by Dr. Veronica A. Pear.

Author Contributions: Dr Pear had full access to all of the data in the study and takes responsibility for the integrity of the data and the accuracy of the data analysis.

It is clear the authors expected to find a statistically significant drop in fatal and non-fatal firearm injuries, both from assault and self-harm. If there were an association, this study had the best chance to find it.  From the abstract:

Key Points

  • Question
    • Has implementation of the gun violence restraining order law, beginning in 2016, been associated with a reduction in firearm assault or firearm self-harm in San Diego County, California?
  • Findings
    • In this cross-sectional study, the gun violence restraining order law was not significantly associated with a reduction in firearm violence of any kind during its first 4 years of implementation, 2016 to 2019.
  • Meaning
    • These results suggest that gun violence restraining order implementation did not reduce population-level rates of firearm violence in San Diego County, but future studies should investigate whether there were individual-level benefits to those directly affected.

This correspondent applauds Dr. Pear and her associates for publishing this null result. It shows integrity on their part.


There was no examination of the costs of the legislation, which can be significant. JAMA consistently ignores the costs of legislation.

Hundreds of people were stigmatized by the Red Flag laws. Many likely lost jobs. Increased depression and loss of trust in the legal system and the rule of law were likely results. The financial cost was likely substantial.

At the minimum, a correlation between the law and reduced firearm injuries and fatalities has to be shown, or there is no reasonable reason for the law to exist.

There was no correlation.  

Our government was not designed to be run by technocratic “experts”. Experts can be found to provide reasons for any desired policy. The COVID years show we are continually lied to by “experts” “for our own good.”

This means we are lied to by experts for their own reasons. Public trust in government “experts” has dropped to historically low levels. The philosophy of limiting government power is showing its merit.

Many excuses were given as to why no correlation was discovered. The usual refrain was brought out. Give us more money and have us do more studies.

The cynical side of this correspondent whispers, that if your grant funding depends on finding a correlation, a correlation will be found.

A recent editorial in JAMA Newt  Open fairly drips with condensation for those who oppose unlimited government power.  JAMA is a quintessential Progressive organization. It sees government action as only in one direction – to do good things. Of course, only Progressives are allowed to define what is good, what is truth, and what is not, either good or true.

The editorial acknowledges a large number of GVROs in San Diego county were driven by “the enthusiasm of the local city attorney,” which shows the policy was driven by one person’s emotion, ambition, and bias.

Governments and the leadership of JAMA are not made of angels.

They are humans. Humans are fallible. Humans are swayed by ambition, pride, power, money, and peer group bias.

The Constitution limits government for broad reasons of human nature. By the nature of limited government, some approaches are taken off the table.

Violating due process is one of the approaches which is supposed to be off the table.

This study shows any gains from this approach are immeasurably small, if
they exist at all.  It is equally possible red flag laws do more harm than good.

Even pure, limited view pragmatism cannot justify this law.

More deference to due process of law should be required, when the law involves the exercise of a fundamental Constitutional right.

The red flag or GVPO laws are invitations for abuse. The courts, thus far,
have claimed there is no violation of due process, if Second Amendment
rights have only been removed for a year.

Progressives have never valued due process or limited government. Because the Second Amendment limits what governments are allowed to do, antipathy to the Second Amendment is in Progressive DNA.

This correspondent expects more court cases.

About Dean Weingarten:

Dean Weingarten has been a peace officer, a military officer, was on the University of Wisconsin Pistol Team for four years, and was first certified to teach firearms safety in 1973. He taught the Arizona concealed carry course for fifteen years until the goal of Constitutional Carry was attained. He has degrees in meteorology and mining engineering, and retired from the Department of Defense after a 30 year career in Army Research, Development, Testing, and Evaluation.

Dean Weingarten

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“A recent editorial in JAMA Newt Open fairly drips with condensation”
I’m having a day exactly like that today… newts and all!
But I suspect you meant condescension.


good to sea you poof read as well as we do in or coments

Big George

Dean, ditto on a well written article! I have a good friend a retired LEO still living in S.D. County. I forwarded this article to him and he had NO idea this RFL had been implemented! In this CA volatile housing market with frequent home turn-overs in his neighborhood, he’s always concerned who is new neighbor’s political leanings might be.


Dean, excellent work, excellent catch and I really appreciate the effort. We need more real journalism just like this. The truth shall keep us free as long as people have the courage and curiosity to hear the truth. And those are rare commodities in our contemporary culture. But here is the but……….. Progressive and especially New Left Progressive political types are not about results. Ever. Results of public policy are irrelevant. They are simply about power and control. One of the best examples is the War on Poverty. Our poverty rate has not moved one percentage point since Lyndon Johnson’s… Read more »

Arkansas Rob

Well done, Dean.


The political elite are making it up as they go the pew polls are full of cr-p. The government can never be trusted when it come to facts and figures. They have been caught lying so many times that now they have come up with the office of disinformation. This so there own propaganda can be fact checked by the deep state. Let’s be clear here they want to disarm law abiding americans becoming part of the global reset we are being sold out by both parties. “What they have forgotten is we will not go quietly into the night”… Read more »


Spot on. Government bureaucracies and legislatures have gone rogue across the nation. The feds have been that way for decades. The FBI and US Justice Department have been rogue for decades. Folks need to wake up to our new Soviet reality.


no government can be trusted power corrupts , and only those who want power take government jobs they cant make it on their own