ROCKVILLE, Md. (WUSA9) -- There have been at least 172 "extreme risk" complaints in Maryland allowing the seizure of guns filed in the seven weeks since the state's controversial "Red Flag" law went into effect October 1st – a number that has exceeded expectations, according to Montgomery County Sheriff Darren Popkin.
"There is no doubt in my mind this is saving lives," Popkin said. Red Flag Law gun seizure orders have been issued at least a dozen times in Montgomery County since Oct. 1, according to statistics Popkin's office has compiled.
The new Maryland law allows authorities to immediately seize guns from any person who is the target of a complaint while courts determine whether the person is at risk of violent behavior or suicide. Frequently people targeted by the petitions are in the midst of a mental health crisis, Popkin said.
Family members, domestic partners, teachers, therapists and police are among those who can apply for the extreme risk orders. Judges can order authorities to give guns back after a hearing is held.
Below, find Maryland's petition for an extreme risk protective order:
Maryland Petition for Extre... by on Scribd
"Family being involved is a very critical piece of how this is working out," Popkin said. At least 75 of the gun seizures have occurred after concerned family members made complaints about someone who was making threats or who appeared to be mentally unstable.
Maryland's Red Flag law was passed in the wake of the Parkland H.S. shootings in Florida and an attack at Great Mills High School in St. Mary's County, Maryland.
The law has been used to seize guns in more than one school threat case since Oct. 1, Popkin said.
Some gun owners have been able to get their weapons returned. Final seizure orders have been denied or dismissed by judges in 24 of the 172 cases so far.
"The judges are not rubber-stamping these complaints," Popkin said. "They are holding substantial hearings and making rulings based on evidence. The system is working."
Explore the map below to see statistics for ERPO petitions in every Maryland county as of Nov. 13 (data provided by the Montgomery County Sheriff's Department):