In the wake of the Parkland School shooting, Americans are demanding that lawmakers implement measures to prevent future massacres. Now, a bipartisan coalition from 30 states are rolling out “red flag” legislation that makes it harder for domestic abusers or anyone exhibiting troubling or violent behavior to keep or purchase guns.
The measure, called the “Extreme Risk Protection Order,” establishes a process by which family members, household members, or law enforcement can petition a judge for a gun violence restraining order against a particular individual. The specific details of the bills vary from state to state. But broadly, the law would allow for a temporary seizure (a few weeks), after which a judge decides whether the gun owner’s behavior warrants a longer-term ban on the weapons.
The states aiming to pass the legislation are: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, North Carolina, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, and Wisconsin.
These 30 states would join another five — California, Connecticut, Indiana, Oregon, and Washington — that already have red flag laws, which allow concerned family members or law enforcement to act on the warning signs and get a type of temporary restraining order.
Forty-two percent of mass shootings from January 2009 to December 2016, the shooter exhibited warning signs, like acts, attempted acts or threats of violence towards oneself, violations of protective orders or ongoing substance abuse, According to the nonprofit Everytown for Gun Safety.
Former domestic abuse, for example, was a common denominator of the church shooter in Sutherland Springs, Texas; the shooter in Las Vegas; and the 19-year-old student who killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High school in Parkland, Florida, two weeks ago.
If all 30 states passed the bills, 83 percent of America would be protected by these laws, according to New York State Sen. Brian Kavanagh.
“The gun industry and its allies in Washington have long blocked federal laws to prevent gun violence, but state lawmakers across the country are stepping up with legislation that can save lives,” Kavanagh said in a statement. “And we won’t back down.”