Lawmakers Hope to Empower Police to Take Guns Away From Unstable People: 5 Things to Know About Red Flag Laws

FILE PHOTO: People gather for a vigil to remember victims of the mass shootings at Dayton and El Paso, at Grand Army Plaza in Brooklyn, New York, U.S., August 5, 2019. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz
FILE PHOTO: People gather for a vigil to remember victims of the mass shootings at Dayton and El Paso, at Grand Army Plaza in Brooklyn, New York, U.S., August 5, 2019. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz

Following the horrific shootings in Ohio and Texas, Republicans and Democrats alike are calling for Red Flag laws to be implemented in the United States.

While navigating the Second Amendment is typically a point of political contention, everyone from President Donald Trump to his 2020 opponent Beto O’Rourke seems to support the measure.

There may be a bipartisan appeal, but not everyone is sold on the policy. Here are five things to know about Red Flag laws.

What are Red Flag laws?

Red Flag laws — sometimes referred to as extreme risk protection orders (ERPOs) — would grant police officers the ability to remove guns from anyone who is reported to be a threat to the public. These policies already exist in 17 states, granting family members the ability to report their relative if they believe he or she could be a danger to society.

How would they work?

Though it varies by state, typically, the family must ask a judge to grant authorities permission to remove weapons from the flagged individual. They petition the court and explain their fears to a judge who can give local police the green light to take the weapons away.

The flagged individual does not get notified about the legal proceedings regarding the court petition. If the judge grants the families wishes, the individual will have no clue he or she has been flagged until police arrive to confiscate the weapons.

The confiscation is immediate but temporary.

Who supports the legislation?

In the wake of the shootings, Senators Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) penned legislation that announced federal support for states that pass Red Flag laws. While this isn’t a federal law, it could encourage the remaining states to take up the policy.

President Trump announced his support for ERPOs, telling the American people:

“We must make sure that those judged to pose a grave risk to public safety do not have access to firearms and that if they do, those firearms can be taken through rapid due process. That is why I have called for red flag laws, also known as extreme risk protection orders.”

Republicans are joined by many Democrats in their support for the policy.

With the cross-partisan appeal, the laws seem like a no-brainer, but that isn’t the case. Many are skeptical of ERPOs.

Why do some oppose Red Flag laws?

Those who opposed Red Flag laws aren’t as concerned about the Second Amendment as they are about the Fifth Amendment.

Many believe that ERPOs violate the right to due process because the individuals whose guns are confiscated never has a chance to defend their case before the court. Their guns are taken, then they have to start from scratch to get them back.

Some believe such laws could be abused.

Would Red Flag laws stop mass shootings?

There is no evidence to suggest that mass shootings would end altogether if Red Flag laws were implemented.

However, according to the anti-gun violence group Everytown, 51 percent of mass gunmen show warning signs that they may attack the public. Everytown also notes that ERPOs can effective in preventing suicides by taking away weapons from vulnerable individuals.

While it could reduce gun violence, there are no guarantees that the policy would prevent future attacks. As many people noted, there are other ways to commit atrocities that don’t involve guns.

Ultimately, there is no easy solution for ending mass shootings in the U.S. It remains unclear whether Red Flag legislation — or any other anti-gun violence measures — will take hold nationwide.

What do you think?

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Walter Swartz
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Walter Swartz

BEWARE . . . . when a democrat gets elected to high office, and they have the house and senate. . . . . every republican will be considered mentally unstable and massive confiscation will ensue!

What we NEED to do is eliminate the current education system. Next, usher in “teaching people HOW to think” not what to think. Teach our true history, our constitution, and federalist papers, not a communist indoctrination.

Good luck with that . . . let’s save the republic!

Anna Ostby
Member

My concern is that this law could be abused by someone who has a grudge against you .

proudmomoffive
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proudmomoffive

Oh Eric Holder shut up!! You still have your hands dirty from the guns that ended up in the hands of the cartels and killed one Border Patrol agent. Shut up!!

proudmomoffive
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proudmomoffive

The El Paso shooter is a democrat (somebody changed his social media profile to Republican the day of the shooting) and so was the Dayton shooter ( and a satanist as well). Why don’t we ban democrats instead because they kill people.

proudmomoffive
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proudmomoffive

” would grant police officers the ability to remove guns from anyone who is reported to be a threat to the public.” That is a very scary and vague definition, as the state can deem anybody that wants to persecute a “threat to the public. There needs to be very clear and precise language to protect the First Amendment but then again you are going to the jugular of the Second, without which the First can be brought down. The shooting in El Paso was orchestrated as a blow to the Second Amendment.

Charles
Member

Everytown? Why would anyone believe that a Liberal organization, that is anti-gun, would compile honest reports? That would be like hiring Hillary Clinton to compile a report on illegal voting and campaign violations. Yes, lets pass laws based on the word of the anti-gun crowd. I don’t think so!

Charles
Member

Red flag laws are one more way for democrats and liberal judges to take confiscate your legally owned firearms. Remember that a fake dossier was used to get a federal judge to allow the FBI to spy on the Trump Campaign, twice! Due process only comes after the guns are confiscated, not before. This amounts to harassment of gun owners and violates the 1st, 2nd, 4th, and 8th amendments. No thanks. Write and call your Congressment/women. Get this stopped.

Patti Harrison
Member

There MUST BE MORE Mental Health Funding, and LESS Stigma of people who live with mental illness, not all of us are the crazy lunatic waiting for the time to shoot up a building or school, but most of us live daily with our illness and work, go to school, take care of our families! Again, there should be a lot more funding for the mental health care for each state, we shouldn’t have to beg for programs that would help us understand our illness and enjoy life!

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