The facts are clear: Red-flag gun laws save lives, and it’s time political leaders pass these laws at the federal and state level before the next mass shooting.
At the rate of mass shootings this year, we have very little time.
An in-depth report by The New York Times showed that in the city of San Diego alone, guns taken under a red-flag court order prevented three likely shootings. In one case the man threatened co-workers at a car dealership and praised the Las Vegas mass shooter. In another, a man “told his fiance he wanted to shoot her in the head,” according to the Times report. In another, a man said he’d like to take his supervisors hunting so “it would look like an accident.”
Some 17 states have passed red flag laws, most of them after the Parkland, Florida, high school mass shooting in 2018. The laws allow authorities with a judge’s approval to confiscate guns from people deemed a danger to themselves and others. It’s not a carte blanche way for the government to take guns from people, despite what the NRA would suggest. In Maryland, half of nearly 800 petitions for gun removal were denied.
The number of guns taken through the legitimate court orders under red flag laws is so large, one cannot argue how many mass shootings they may have prevented. Some 1,700 temporary orders for gun confiscation are currently in effect in Florida. San Diego has confiscated 400 weapons, including 40 military-style rifles, in the last two years alone from 300 orders.
Even where confiscation orders were denied, Maryland officials point out the law served another good purpose as a cooling-off period for those who were threatening others.
And the public demand for tougher gun laws is growing. Red-flag laws are supported by 90 percent of the American people, according to a recent Politico/Morning Consult poll.
It’s good news to see GOP Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell finally agreeing to allow the Senate to consider tougher background check laws and red flag laws after the August recess. The U.S. House passed a background check bill that McConnell had earlier refused to hear.
The Minnesota GOP-controlled Senate leadership should likewise change its position on background checks and red flag laws. Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka has said the laws need “significant” bipartisan support. In fact, two of his Republican senators supported broader background checks and red flag laws, yet Gazelka allowed his caucus to drum up flimsy parliamentary roadblocks to thwart a fair vote on the Senate floor.
These are commonsense public safety proposals. They harm no one’s Second Amendment rights. And they’re proven to save lives.