- Learn about Virginia’s “Red Flag Law.”
- Police will help dispose of unwanted firearms.
- Free firearm safety locks are available.
- Many mental health resources are in place, such as emergency services, classes and online screenings.
As grieving and healing continue in Uvalde, Buffalo, around the country and in our community due to gun violence incidents, there are local resources outlined below to know about.
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RED FLAG LAW
Prevent a gun tragedy – speak up. Since July 2020, Virginia has had a “red flag law” in place to prevent individuals who show signs of being a threat to themselves or others from purchasing, possessing or transporting any kind of firearm.
If you know of someone with a gun acting in a way that concerns you, request an “Emergency Substantial Risk Order” by calling our public safety emergency line at 703-691-2131 (or if there is an immediate danger, call or text 9-1-1). This process provides necessary procedural safeguards to ensure that no firearm is removed without due process.
The following are examples of who may report potential for a gun tragedy:
- Family members
- Domestic partners
- Romantic partners or dates
- Parent of a child in common
- Police officers
- Mental health professionals
Upon the reporting of a credible concern to the Office of the Commonwealth Attorney or a law-enforcement officer, the Fairfax County Police Department will:
- Conduct an independent investigation, which determines whether or not the subject of the order possesses a substantial risk to themselves or others in the near future by being in possession of or acquiring a firearm.
- Seek a court order from a magistrate or judge of the Circuit Court, General District Court or Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court to temporarily remove a gun or guns from individuals who have been determined to be an immediate danger to themselves or others.
There will be a court hearing within 14 days of issuance. The law requires, for the duration of the order:
- Temporary removal of guns from the subject of the order.
- The subject of the order relinquishes their concealed handgun permit to the courts.
- Prohibits new gun purchases by the subject of the order.
The law provides necessary procedural safeguards to ensure that no firearm is removed without due process. The law allows for the subject of an order to file an appeal to dissolve the order, no earlier than 30 days from the date the order was issued.
This creates safer circumstances for the individual to stabilize their behavior while staying safe, seeking treatment, or accessing resources to address the underlying causes of their dangerous behaviors.
DISPOSING OF UNWANTED FIREARMS
Our Police Department is often called upon to assist residents when they have firearms or ammunition they no longer wish to keep. Sometimes people come into contact with these items while assisting an aging family member with moving or they simply no longer want them.
The quickest and easiest way to get rid of the firearm or ammunition is simply to call the public safety non-emergency number at 703-691-2131 and request an officer respond to your home. Leave the weapon in a safe location and direct the officer to it. The officer will ensure the gun is unloaded and rendered safe before taking possession of it.
LOCK AND TALK PROGRAM
Our Community Services Board has a limited supply of free firearm safety locks for a wide variety of firearms as part of its “Lock and Talk” suicide prevention program. Studies show that when firearms are accessible, individuals are more than three times likely to die by suicide and that most of people who die by suicide use firearms (61 percent). Putting time and distance between someone having thoughts of suicide and the method may save a life.
EMOTIONAL AND MENTAL HEALTH SUPPORT
Knowing signs and symptoms of mental or emotional crisis, and accessing quality treatment and care, are critical in our community.
- If you or someone you know is experiencing a mental health emergency, call our 24-hour hotline 703-573-5679, TTY 711.
- For non-emergency services, call our 703-383-8500 during normal business hours (Monday through Thursday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., and Friday 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.). Staff can take calls in English and Spanish and can access interpreters for other languages when needed.
Additional options include:
- Consider taking a Mental Health First Aid class that teaches you about mental health concerns and provides training for you to feel confident helping someone get the support and care they deserve.
- Take a free, confidential online mental health screening. Completing these anonymous screenings will help determine if recent thoughts or behaviors may be associated with a common, treatable mental health issue.
- Also, be sure to take time to talk to teens about emotional health. Tips are available online to help navigate these conversations and how to talk to children about school shootings and violence.