The recent shootings and killings have led to heated debates on this question; “when an individual is suicidal or poses a threat to others, should the authorities seize their guns?”
Colorado has joined Washington D.C in consenting to this with other 21 countries adopting a law they are referring to as “red flag.”
These laws now occupy pages in law books in Colorado, California, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Oregon, Rhode Island, New York, Indiana, Washington, District of Columbia and Vermont. Other states like Pennsylvania and Maine are likely to follow suit.
The war against firearms
Gun-related violence has been on the rise with two high-profile shootings, at a synagogue, and a college campus. History has proved that such events lead to gun laws such as the red flag bill.
The issue has attracted interest at the national level that a Republican (and chairman of the senate judiciary committee) Lindsey Graham commented on the matter. He even said he is a dedicated supporter of protective order laws at the local level excluding the federal level. He is pushing a national grant to convince states to pass them.
He insists that this law will facilitate taking guns from people who seem emotionally or mentally unstable and stated that he believes that the red flag law would have made a difference if they were implemented before the massacre at parkland high school that left 17 people dead.
President Donald Trump chartered a school safety commission last year on the wake of the parkland gunfire as a temporal way of keeping those who threaten the society by possessing or purchasing firearms at bay.
The commission says that the impact of the laws on gun violence, beyond preventing suicide is unclear. Trump has since called on states to implement extreme risk protective orders that should be carefully drafted to ensure that law-abiding citizens are protected.
The laws change from state to state with different names but have one aim: To take action in the event of danger. They allow a judge to temporarily deny an individual the right to own or purchase a firearm—if requested by a law enforcement officer or relative—when he/she poses a threat to himself or others
The court has the authority to seize the weapon awaiting a second hearing after which if the judge finds more convincing evidence to support the claims, the seizing order stays in effect for a year.
Over 1,700 gun seizing orders in 2018
At least 1,700 orders have been issued by courts to allow guns to be seized for months, weeks or even a year under the red flag law. This figure is inaccurate and may be higher since California laws were not included in the compilation of data by the associated press.
In Maryland, following the passing of the red flag bill in October, has issued 302 extreme risk protective orders in the first three months. The Montgomery County sheriff informed lawmakers at a hearing on January that four-gun owners were a “likely threat” to schools. He adds that the majority of these cases are as a result of some form of acute mental illness and the red flag sanctions are the only things saving lives from such threats.
In states such as Indiana, not only can a worried relative report the seizure of a gun but law enforcement officers are also allowed to confiscate the weapon on sight as they wait for a court hearing before any other permanent steps are taken.
Other states allow a relative or family member to intervene. In Oregon, if you live under the same roof with a person that poses such threats, you have the right to report your concerns to law enforcement and if the judge agrees, facilitate the seizure of the weapon or weapons within 24 hours.
When a judge is deciding on such cases, they weigh the evidence as threats of violence, history of self-harm or hurting others, domestic abuse, and cruelty to animals. It is necessary for both sides to present their evidence and arguments in 10 days at a full hearing after which the judge can extend the order. With Colorado on the fold, Maine and Pennsylvania are on the verge of passing the red flag laws with Maine passing its bills earlier.
Electronic payments expert Blair Thomas is the co-founder of high-risk payment processing company eMerchantBroker. He’s just as passionate about helping entrepreneurs get a gun merchant account as he is with traveling and spending time with his dog Cooper.