Police chief defends 'Red Flag' law after 61-year-old man shot by cops


A 61-year-old man named Gary J. Willis was shot and killed when police were attempting to serve one of Maryland's new 'red flag' laws and confiscate the firearm, as part of the new law required him to surrender his gun. There was a struggle with police, the man's gun went off and didn't hit anyone, but an officer fired and ended the man's life.

It was was the Anne Arundel County police chief who defended the 'red flag' law. As stated on Capital Gazette, "Chief Timothy Altomare said the fatal shooting in Ferndale was a sign that the law, which went into effect Oct. 1, is needed. There have been 19 protective orders sought in the county since then, tying Harford County for the most in Maryland, according to a report on the first month. Statewide, about half of the 114 orders sought have been granted."

What exactly happened?

Police went to his house at 5:17 a.m.

Willis opened the door and put the gun down while he spoke with police officers.

At some point Willis picked up the gun and reportedly would not give the firearm to the officers.

It seems like there was a struggle and the weapon fired accidentally, but it did not strike anyone.

That's when another officer fired at Willis.

"Police said he “became irate” when officers tried to serve him with the emergency risk protective order and picked it up again.

As he struggled with the officers over the gun, it went off but didn’t strike anyone. One of the two officers then fatally shot Willis with his department-issued firearm, a police spokeswoman said."

What exactly is this so-called 'red flag' law?

It happens when someone seeks a court order that will temporarily stop or prohibit someone else from access to a firearm when they are deemed a danger to themselves or others. It's being called the "red flag" law because that's a common term when people say "did you see any red flags" before an incident happens.

Why was Willis being served a 'red flag' order?

One of Willis' family members called it in. Apparently there was an incident that happened at the house and someone else in his family wanted the protective order to get the guns out of the home.

The orders can be temporary.

The 'red flag' laws have sparked controversy in the sense that people do not want it to be abused and guns confiscated from people who are not acting inappropriately, but had a report filed on them from someone who has a personal issue. Some believe it will lead to large-scale gun confiscation.

The 'red flag' laws will be the topic of numerous debates for years to come until there's more concrete evidence and statistics to determine their effectiveness.