Americans are angry and fearful after two back-to-back mass shootings rocked the country this weekend. In response to their calls for political action, President Donald Trump told the country he wants “red flag” laws to prevent more tragedy.
“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,” Trump said. “That is why I have called for red flag laws, also known as extreme risk protection orders.”
Shortly after Trump’s address, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said he will propose bipartisan legislation encouraging states to enact red flag laws of their own.
Red flag laws allow law enforcement, family members and other concerned parties to petition a judge to confiscate guns from individuals who may cause harm to themselves or others. It’s a way of acting upon warning signs, “red flags,” in order to prevent potential gun violence.
The laws vary in different states. In Indiana, only law enforcement can request an order to remove weapons. But in Oregon, any person living with the person they’re concerned about can petition the state.
According to The Trace, lawmakers on both sides of the debate have embraced red flag policies. Red flag laws have been enacted in 17 states, 12 of which acted after the Parkland high school shooting in Feb. 2018 where 17 people died. The laws have been proposed in four states.
As with the 12 states enacting laws after Parkland, red flag laws tend to appear in states after a deadly shooting shocks the community. Connecticut passed the first red flag law in 1999 after a shooting at Connecticut Lottery headquarters in Newington. California passed its own version after a 22-year-old killed seven people, including himself.
Not everyone is a fan of the laws. The National Rifle Association has historically been against them, fighting the legislation in various states. They’ve said the laws violate an individual’s right to due process. After Parkland, though, they indicated they might support versions that, in their view, protect due process.
This is not the first time Trump has noted red flag laws as a solution. In March 2018, he called on all states to enact the laws, while ensuring due process rights are protected.
“ERPOs should be carefully tailored to ensure the due process rights of law-abiding citizens are protected,” his statement read.
Some politicians, including Trump, are more wary of red flag laws on the federal level. Graham told people not to worry about the federal government taking their guns at a hearing before his committee on red flag laws.
“I think passing a federal law is probably beyond what the market will bear,” he said. “But creating an incentive at the federal level for states who want to go down this road … I think that’s the best way, at least initially to solve this problem.”