Many supporters of the Second Amendment advocate for Red Flag laws
They are a proven tool, drafted with strong due process protections, and enjoy strong bipartisan support.
Connecticut was the first state to pass them. It helped keep many people safe from mass shootings.
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In 1999, Connecticut became the first state to enact firearm seizure legislation following a mass shooting at the state lottery headquarters. Connecticut’s law requires an “independent investigation” by police if they believe that a person poses “a risk of imminent personal injury” to self or others, followed by a warrant request, with several formal checks on the judge’s ability to order the seizure and retention of firearms by law enforcement.
Indiana was second. People in the state have been trying to close loopholes in the law as well.
March For Our Lives is a movement dedicated to student-led activism around ending gun violence and the epidemic of mass shootings in schools today. Los Angeles, CA.. Hayk_Shalunts / Shutterstock.com
In 2005, after the fatal shooting of a police officer in Indianapolis, Indiana enacted firearm seizure laws. Indiana’s law permits warrantless seizure of a person’s firearms if a police officer believes the person has a “mental illness” and is “dangerous,” defined as an imminent or future “risk of personal injury” to self or others. Indiana’s firearm seizure law was associated with a 7.5% reduction in firearm suicides in the ten years following its enactment, larger than that seen in any comparison state by chance alone.
And then other states followed suit. Protecting those who are in danger from themselves and keeping the community safe are universal priorities.
Students at Tucson High Magnet School conduct a student walkout as part of the national #ENOUGH! walkout day.. Jeffrey J Snyder / Shutterstock.com
Four additional states (California, Washington, Oregon, and Florida) have recently passed "extreme risk protection orders." Although the specifics of each piece of legislation vary, all of these laws allow risk-based firearm seizures that are time-limited, with a level of judicial oversight and due process, and that apply to persons who are not already prohibited from owning guns. To date, 19 other states have proposed such legislation, and federal policies are being considered. Even Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., in his opening remarks at the full Committee meeting, said he supports these laws and sought to downplay fears of second amendment infringement. "There are a lot of people [who] may be worried, 'Is the government going to come take your guns?' And the answer is, 'No,' " Graham said, hinting that one day he hopes there could be a federal process for law enforcement or family members to be able to petition a court signaling someone is "about to blow." Part of the reason for the reversal in political position is that public opinion has shifted. The New York Times reported that "a third of Americans reported that fear of a mass shooting stops them from going to certain public places, according to a survey by the American Psychological Association. Sixty percent say they’re worried about a mass shooting in their community." Lieutenant Governor of Texas Dan Patrick, who was a vocal advocate for protecting people's right to bear arms, actually proposed expanding the state's background checks in 2019 after the shooting at Santa Fe High School in Texas. Part of the reason is also still political - fear of more strict restrictions if Republicans don't do anything in the near future if Democrats gain control of Congress and there is another unfortunate massacre.
Trump supports their passage. Despite being committed to protecting the Second Amendment, the president changed his mind on red flag laws after a series of school shootings
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The Federal Commission on School Safety, which was convened by President Trump following the shootings at Parkland and Santa Fe, recently endorsed Red Flag laws as an effective tool to prevent school gun violence. He has called on states to adopt “extreme risk protection order” (ERPO) laws that protect the due process rights of law-abiding citizens. ERPOs allow law enforcement, with approval from a court, to remove firearms from individuals who are a demonstrated threat to themselves or others and temporarily to prevent individuals from purchasing new firearms. President Trump supports improving the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) and the STOP School Violence Act, which provides for State-based grants to implement evidence-based violence prevention programs. The Administration requests that Congress provide funding in 2018 to jump start implementation of this evidence-based program in middle and high schools nationwide. Trump should, however, also lobby Republican governors known for doing nothing about gun control in their states to issue these ERPO laws with no loopholes allowing people to purchase firearms across state lines, a black hole of information as funding to improve NICS is still on hold.
Even the NRA supports Red Flag laws as long as they are restricted The powerful lobbying organization recognizes their right to bear arms could be further limited without addressing red flag issues
"We need to stop dangerous people before they act," Chris W. Cox, executive director of the National Rifle Association's Institute for Legislative Action said. "So Congress should provide funding to states to adopt risk protection orders," he said in a somewhat shocking support of at least a small restriction on gun ownership by those who are seen as threats to the community in which they live. The NRA's support for red flag laws comes with the condition that there be high legal thresholds for temporary gun removals — higher than most gun control activists call for. But gun control groups have assumed the NRA strictly opposes such laws, which is not true. The NRA should be using its immense lobbying power in Congress to push states to do this as well and funding to improve national databases on gun ownership. However, this is no altruistic support. It's based on a fear that if ERPO laws are not supported, real gun control reform could happen, further restricting gun ownership, particularly in households with children.
Mike Bloomberg is also both a Second Amendment and Red Flag law supporter. He is an example of a politician who can toe the line between both.
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At the 00:30 mark of the video, Bloomberg confirms that he supports the right to bear arms but nonetheless believes in changing laws to red. Bloomberg's opinion is important in this instance because his thoughts on the matter mirror that of many Americans. They don't want to permanently change the Constitution, particularly an amendment part of the Bill of Rights. But, they don't want people who police deem a danger to their communities roaming about with the ability to purchase and own multiple firearms and deadly weapons. Many, like Bloomberg, feel that if you pass a background check, don't have a criminal record of violent offenses, and police have not deemed you a risk mentally or emotionally - then you should be able to own a firearm. Evidence has shown some of the deadliest mass shootings in U.S. history were not impulsive acts prompted by some emotional or traumatic event. They took careful and deliberate planning by people who were exhibiting some unchecked signs of mental illness.