‘Red flag’ bills to keep guns from ‘dangerous’ persons are introduced in Senate

‘Red flag’ bills to keep guns from ‘dangerous’ persons are introduced in Senate
Two bipartisan bills, one to allow courts to temporarily prevent the ownership and sale of guns to people deemed a risk, another to encourage states to pass "red flag" gun laws, have been introduced to the US senate.

Senators Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) have introduced the law, known as the Federal Extreme Risk Protection Act, which would let law enforcement or family members obtain a court order if a person is considered a risk to themselves or others.

Graham said they are hoping to start a “national conversation” with the bill’s introduction.

Senator Blumenthal and I disagree on many issues regarding the Second Amendment, but we strongly agree restricting access to firearms by those who pose an imminent danger to themselves or others is a strong step forward,” Graham said in a statement.

Blumenthal added that the bill would help create a “red flag.

Florida senators Marco Rubio (R) and Bill Nelson (D) unveiled similar plans on Wednesday to introduce legislation which will motivate states to roll out so-called "red flag" gun laws that allow people to file restraining orders to withhold firearms from potentially dangerous individuals.

California, Connecticut, Indiana, Oregon and Washington already have gun violence restraining orders in place.

Last week, this "red flag law" was used for the first time to remove a handgun from a man by Seattle Police, the department said in a press release. Police had received reports that the man was threatening restaurant staff while carrying a gun.

The proposals come in the wake of the mass school shooting in Parkland, Florida, in which 17 people died when teenage shooter Nikolas Cruz opened fire. Both the FBI and local police had been warned about Cruz’s potential for violence but had been unable to prevent him buying the firearms he used in the massacre.

Florida legislators on Wednesday passed controversial gun safety legislation limiting sales of certain firearms and providing for the arming of some school staff. 

The debate around gun control has intensified in recent weeks, as lawmakers and activists struggle to find common ground on gun legislation.

Students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School have been vocal about the need for tighter gun restrictions, with a ‘March for Life’ in Washington DC on March 24 to call on lawmakers to pass gun control reform.

A backlash against the National Rifle Association is also underway, with many major companies including retail giants Walmart and Dick’s, severing ties with the gun lobby group.

Law enforcement has faced harsh criticism for its failure to pick-up on clear signs that Cruz posed a threat and to act swiftly when the shooting unfolded. The Broward County Sheriff deputy assigned to the school did not enter the building to confront Cruz, instead standing outside. And despite multiple warnings from concerned members of the public, neither the FBI nor local law enforcement took decisive action to prevent Cruz’s trajectory into extreme violence.

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