INDIANAPOLIS — They are the rare gun laws that attract bipartisan agreement — so-called red flag laws, which allow the authorities to temporarily take away guns from people declared by a judge to be too unstable to have them.
The case of Brandon Hole appeared, at first, to be exactly the kind of situation these laws were designed to address. Indeed, last March, when Mr. Hole’s mother raised alarms about his mental state, the police seized a shotgun from his home. It was never returned.
But a year later, the police say, Mr. Hole, 19, shot and killed eight people at a FedEx facility before killing himself, using rifles he had legally purchased not long after that incident in March 2020.
While many details are still unclear, Mr. Hole’s case is a sobering example of how even states with widely supported safeguards can fail to prevent dangerous people from obtaining firearms. The laws, experts say, are often used only as short-term solutions. In the days after the shooting, local officials have struggled to explain how a man who was deemed by law enforcement as too unstable to possess a weapon could go on to legally buy one months later.
California, for example, family members can directly petition to have firearms temporarily seized from their loved ones. But in Indiana, only law enforcement can initiate that process in court.
a police officer who was shot in the line of duty in 2004, the Indiana law is one of the oldest of its kind in the country. It passed in the Republican-held state legislature by an almost unanimous vote in 2005.
The law has been particularly effective in reducing suicides. A study from Indiana University showed a 7.5 percent decrease in firearm-related suicides in the decade after the law’s passage. In Indianapolis alone, more than 400 people were subject to it from 2006 to 2013, the study said.