Are 'Red Flag Laws' the Answer to Mass Shootings?

One of the proposals expected to be introduced in the 2019 Legislative as a reaction to the Santa Fe High School shooting in May is what is called a 'Red Flag Law,' News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.

A law that would allow a judge, on a recommendation or referral of a family members, law enforcement officer, doctor, or school official to order guns seized from a person who is considered to be 'danger to himself or others' is among Gov. Greg Abbott's list of ideas that came out of round table discussions that followed the Santa Fe shooting.

State Rep. Joe Moody (D-El Paso) introduced a 'Red Flag' proposal in the 2017 session.  He tells News Radio 1200 WOAI that other states have similar laws in place, and they have been upheld by the courts as not a violation of the Second Amendment.

He says 'Red Flag' laws do more than just stop mass shootings.

"You have a state like Indiana, which saw a significant decline in gun related suicides," Moody said.

Research shows that people are more likely to kill themselves when there is a gun in the house.

But Second Amendment groups say 'Red Flag' laws give too much discretion to judges, and a judge with an 'anti-gun agenda' could move to strip the Constitutional rights away from innocent people.

They also say it smacks of 'pre-crime,' or taking away rights from people who have committed no crime, and are only 'suspected' of being a potential criminal.  Second Amendment activists warn it is only a matter of time before someone, for examples, accuses a person who is vocally advocating for gun rights or exercising their right to openly carry firearms of being a 'danger to himself or others' and asks a sympathetic anti-gun judge to take that person's guns away.

People who work with the mentally ill also warn that if people know that coming forward to get help for that mental illness is likely to result in them losing Constitutional rights, it will make them less likely to get the help they need.

But Moody says had his proposal passed the Legislature in 2017 and been signed by the Governor, it could have prevented the Sutherland Springs massacre, which was carried out by a person who clearly had shown multiple signs of being a danger, and was not supposed to be able to purchase a gun in the first place.

"Ultimately a goal is to separate a person from weapons if they are a danger to themselves or others," Moody said.  "That is a goal that we all should share, and how we get there is probably where the debate will be."

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