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Study Concludes That Domestic Violence Laws Have No Predictive Value

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Investigations of domestic violence involving law enforcement officers and law-abiding civilians have failed to predict these shootings in any significant way, according to studies that use information from an array of federal agencies.

Researchers have found little evidence that red flag laws, which require state officials to inform federal authorities when a judge finds a person a danger to themselves or others, prevent domestic-violence shootings in Texas, Oklahoma and Indiana.

“It’s a red herring,” said Jon Vernick, a senior criminologist at the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research in Baltimore. “I find it actually disturbing that someone would have the confidence to say this has some predictive value.”

In a research paper, Dr. Vernick and a colleague from the program that bears his name, Associate Director Leslee Unruh, report that 15 of the 22 large law enforcement agencies they studied in Kansas had no domestic-violence homicides during the 10-year period beginning in 2006.

A study of domestic violence in 42,000 youths across 32 police departments in Indiana found that domestic violence was not related to high domestic-violence murder rates.

An analysis of five Texas counties found that, in one year alone, not a single domestic violence homicide was reported. None of those shootings followed any of the four state laws that place red flags on people considered a danger to themselves or others.

“We do not, contrary to popular belief, find any evidence that domestic violence prevention laws, even those that call for domestic violence restraining orders or background checks, have a meaningfully protective effect,” said the researchers.

In Indiana, domestic-violence training is mandatory for all employees of the division of police services. The training is intended to improve awareness of the issues.

In 2017, the police responded to nearly 4,000 calls for help from alleged abusers to their partners and children. Of the victims of abuse who were still alive, the state tracked one hundred additional victims who were killed. The report could not be done without the victims’ consent.

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