Is a Federal Red Flag Law on the Horizon?
Are Federal Red Flag Laws Coming?
As the United States continues to grapple with gun issues stemming from a rise in mass shootings and high suicide rates, some states have enacted extreme risk protection orders, better known as ‘red flag’ laws.
This type of order, which enables police or family to petition for a court order to temporarily take away guns from an at risk individual, has been met with mixed reactions varying from support to outrage. Those against these red flag laws say that their 2nd Amendment rights are threatened by the potential of someone to take away their weapons by force without due process. Those in support of these laws will argue that they’re temporary removals and intended to save lives.
Is a Federal Red Flag Law Coming?
To date, 15 states (with another 21 currently in the process of releasing their own versions) have adopted these risk protection orders, and recent shifts at the federal levels may signal a nationwide change on the horizon.
But not too fast, says Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham. Graham recently sought to tamper protests and fears of those wanting to retain their 2nd Amendment rights.
Earlier this year, the Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on gun control spurred by a rash of suicides in both Parkland, Fla. and Newtown, Ct. — both sites of recent mass shootings.
During this hearing, the Committee hosted viewpoints on the red flag laws and discussed how these laws would be enforceable at the federal level. At the end, Graham did his best to set the tone, saying that enacting these orders at the federal level may be “beyond what the market can bear.”
Instead, Graham wishes to prompt states who haven’t already to begin formulating their own plans to enact these types of risk protection orders. In these instances, these orders would be enforced for the safety of the individual involved.
Indeed, recent studies have shown a correlation between the enactment of a red flag law and firearm suicides. For example, a study done in Indiana — one of the states with the longest record of red flag laws — showed a 7.5 percent decrease in firearm suicides in the decade following their passage.
But will these types of orders one day blanket the country? Some are hesitant to support the concept still. However, as the country moves closer to a potential shift in gun control, with measures involving things such as increased background checks and assault rifle bans, red flag laws may find themselves on more and more ballots.
While these types of laws are unlikely to be seen at the federal level, the ability for states to pass their own versions allows for more nuanced versions that may fit the needs of each state better. President Trump has encouraged this course of action for states without extreme protection risk orders, and his endorsement of this concept may spur more conservative-leaning states to take action that fits them.
While gun control applies to all types of gun violence, most of the benefit from red flag laws seems to be related to suicides. The fine balance of preventing violence of any kind while still allowing the freedoms written in the Constitution will always be a difficult line to walk.