red flag law

variants: or red-flag law
plural red flag laws or red-flag laws

Definition of red flag law

: a law allowing courts to prevent people who show signs of being a danger to themselves or to others from having access to firearms (as by ordering the seizure of weapons) In the wake of massacres similar to Wednesday's school shooting in Parkland, Fla., a small number of states have passed "red flag laws" that allow the seizure of guns before people can commit acts of violence. … Mental illness, escalating threats, substance abuse and domestic violence are among the circumstances in which a judge can order weapon restrictions under the statutes.— Lenny Bernstein The way red-flag laws work is straightforward. After hearing a petition from a family member or a law-enforcement officer with knowledge that someone is a credible danger to themselves or others, a judge can issue an order allowing for the temporary seizure of firearms belonging to that individual.— Scott Sexton

First Known Use of red flag law

2015, in the meaning defined above

Learn More About red flag law

Time Traveler for red flag law

Time Traveler

The first known use of red flag law was in 2015

See more words from the same year

Dictionary Entries Near red flag law

red flag

red flag law

red flannel hash

See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for red flag law

Cite this Entry

“Red flag law.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 3 Dec. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon


Test Your Vocabulary

Difficult Spelling Words Quiz

  • alphabet pasta spelling help
  • Which is the correct spelling?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!