Are Red Flag Laws How Democrats Will Take Your Guns?

Are Red Flag Laws How Democrats Will Take Your Guns?

Image by Николай Мелехин from Pixabay

The Senate bill’s current outline would allocate $750 million in federal funds to assist states with implementing red-flag laws if they already have or passed such a law–although states without such laws could also be eligible to receive the money through other policies unrelated to guns. If the proposed package becomes law, the bill’s most discussed provisions will make up one of the most significant federal gun violence prevention measures designed to prevent mass shootings from having passed both chambers of Congress in more than 25 years.

Senators from both parties reached a deal on Sunday to encourage states to pass red-flag laws, which authorize authorities to keep guns away from individuals judged a potential threat to themselves or others. These laws, already on the books in many states, allow police to take guns away from individuals deemed to pose threats to themselves or others. Such measures, which would create the legal mechanism for taking guns away from people exhibiting signs of mental distress, are a central element of the bipartisan gun control legislation moving through the US Senate, which would give states funding to pass red-flag laws and strengthen existing ones passed by the US.

June 23, 2022

The 80-page bill falls short of the toughest gun control measures that Democrats have long sought, but its enactment would still represent a remarkable breakthrough after years of stalemate in Congress on addressing gun violence in the United States. To win over Republicans, Democrats had to drop some of their more expansive proposals, many of which have passed the House but stalled in the Senate amid Republican opposition.    “nytimes.com

McBath’s bill goes further, allowing family members and law enforcement officers to obtain an Extreme Risk Protective Order from a federal judge to temporarily take away a person’s access to guns who are considered threats to themselves or others. Some state law enforcement officials have expressed reluctance about the implementation of Extreme Risk Protective Orders. Red flag laws allow for extreme risk protection orders, or EROs, to be issued temporarily to bar an individual with a high-risk background from possessing, purchasing, or selling guns, according to the Seattle Police Department, where evidence shows that an individual poses a substantial danger to themselves or others.

In 19 states, red-flag laws allow police, and in some cases, family members, co-workers, and school officials, to request that courts take away a person’s guns for specified periods of time if they are considered dangerous to themselves or others. This is in contrast with federal law, as well as the laws of most other states, which require that someone has been convicted of a felony, committed to a mental institution, or be on the receiving end of a protective order from domestic violence before he or she can lose his right to possess guns, even temporarily.

In a 224-202 nearly party-line vote, the House passed Georgia Democratic Rep. Lucy McBath’s bill, known as the Federal Extreme Risk Protection Order Act. Five Republicans voted with Democrats, including Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania, Fred Upton of Michigan, and Anthony Gonzalez of Ohio.

One Democrat voted against the bill — Jared Golden of Maine.

As with an earlier vote on raising the minimum age for purchasing a semi-automatic rifle from 18 to 21, all five North Carolina Democrats voted “yes” and all eight Republicans voted “no.”

“We vote (today) to provide law enforcement and family members the tools that they need to prevent these mass shootings,” McBath said. Currently, the District of Columbia and 19 states have red flag laws, meant to be used to prevent gun violence.     “pulse.ncpolicywatch.org

If the judge is convinced, by reason, that you are a danger to yourself or others, police may confiscate your guns for days, weeks, months, or years.

In California, gun violence restraining orders, the state’s version of ERPOs, have prevented several mass shootings, according to Everytown: including one where a dealership clerk threatened to shoot his supervisor and other employees if fired. A study of California’s law since it was passed in 2016 found at least 21 instances where guns were taken away from people threatening mass shootings. In the first three years of California GVRO law, officials used it to remove guns from 58 people who threatened mass shootings, according to a newly released study by the Violence Prevention Research Project. A more recent UC Davis study found that the state’s law has prevented nearly 60 mass shootings.

Studies of the Connecticut and Indiana laws found one suicide prevented for every 10-20 orders issued. Many other states passed similar laws, including seven passed by Republican governors. Such measures have already been passed in 19 states, including Republican strongholds like Indiana and Florida. Nineteen states and the District of Columbia–including two Republican-controlled states, Florida and Indiana–have some form of this legislation on the books.

The states with red-flag laws today include California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington, as well as the District of Columbia. Red-flag laws could extend further, said James Skoufis, a New York State Senator who recently led his Democratic colleagues in passing the 2019 Red Flags Act in Empire State, which will protect guns. In the aftermath of the Buffalo shooting, the state’s Democratic party quickly passed a broadened red-flag law that also allows mental-health professionals to sue in court and requires social media companies to report credible threats of violence.

That is why she and nine other Republican senators joined with 10 Democratic colleagues to draft a bipartisan gun-control bill framework that would encourage states to adopt red-flag laws, provide funds to help states expand access to mental-health and suicide-prevention programs, ban intimate partners convicted of domestic abuse from purchasing guns for five years, extend the background-check process to those aged 18-20, require more types of gun sellers to register as sellers and request background checks on buyers formally, and require more types of gun sellers to register as sellers and request background checks on buyers formally. Her advice for individuals who want stronger gun-control laws in their states is to vote out politicians who routinely block them. Shannon Frattaroli says that law enforcement agencies need not just be there to respond to mass shooting events but to prevent them.

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