“Red flag” laws are laws that empower judges to seize people’s firearms if they exhibit certain troubling behaviors. In the wake of the Parkland massacre, such laws gained a great deal of attention, as they were pushed as a potential solution that would prevent other such tragedies from happening.
However, those laws aren’t without problems.
Those problems caused a “red flag” bill to slam head-first into a roadblock in Colorado yesterday.
A contentious measure that would have allowed Colorado judges to order the seizure of guns from people considered a “significant risk” to themselves or others was rejected Monday night by Republicans in a GOP-controlled state Senate panel.
“There is no divide in the Senate,” Senate Majority Leader Chris Holbert, R-Parker, told reporters Monday, underlining that fact.
The bill would have allowed relatives, household members or law enforcement to petition a judge to issue a temporary protection order for the removal of firearms from a person deemed an “extreme risk.” The court would then have held a second hearing within a week on whether to weigh evidence that would have barred the person from having or receiving a firearm for six months — and potentially longer.
The judge could have considered a person’s recent credible threats of violence, relevant mental health issues, any history of domestic violence, abuse of controlled substances and evidence of a recent acquisition of a firearm or ammunition in determining if they were a risk.
But when the measure was introduced last week, it immediately prompted fierce blowback from conservatives who worried it represented government overreach — despite the backing of big-name Republicans outside of the Capitol, like U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman and 18th Judicial District Attorney George Brauchler. Republicans in other states have also passed similar measures, which came into national focus after February’s high school shooting in south Florida.
The bill passed the Democrat-controlled House with only two Republicans voting in favor of the bill, one of whom was a co-sponsor.
There didn’t seem to be any disagreement on the bill in the Senate. They just killed the bill in a committee meeting in a partisan 3-2 vote.
Look, I get the allure of “red flag” laws. I really do. The idea that a family member can see the warning signs and step up to save lives with the help of the court sounds great.
The problem is that it can lead to all sorts of issues. While no one wants guns in the hands of the violent, we should likewise be concerned about potentially disarming the innocent. “Red flag” laws need protections for the law-abiding before they could seriously be considered as not being completely against our sacred right to keep and bear arms.
But anti-gun politicians aren’t interested in getting it right. They’re just interested in getting it first.