Our nation has seen yet another round of mass shootings with the recent events in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio.
We live in difficult times. According to the nonprofit research group, Gun Violence Archive, these are just two of the 257 mass shootings in the United States so far this year. A “mass shooting” is defined as any incident where four or more people, not including the gunman, are shot.
In the past, when tragedies such as these have occurred, new gun laws have been enacted. One of the most well known of these is the “Brady Handgun Violence Protection Act,” which was named after President Ronald Reagan’s press secretary James Brady who, along with the president, was shot in an assassination attempt March 30, 1981. This bill mandates federal background checks of many firearms purchasers.
There have now been calls for new gun laws and it appears that there is growing bipartisan congressional support for the passage of a federal law encouraging individual states to continue to enact what are known as ”red flag” or “Extreme Risk Protection Order” laws.
These are laws which allow a court to order the confiscation of firearms from certain individuals.
Currently, there are 17 states and the District of Columbia which have them and at least five other states (including Michigan) which are considering them.
Although the laws vary by state, in general they provide for family members, law enforcement and others who have knowledge, to file a court petition or a lawsuit indicating that a particular individual is a danger to themselves or others if they have a firearm.
If the court is satisfied based on the pleadings that there is such a danger, a temporary extreme risk protection order can be entered removing any firearms from the individual’s possession. After a hearing is held, this order can be continued for an additional period of time.
It is difficult to say how many killings have been prevented by these laws, but studies show that there has been a substantial effect on firearm suicides.
There isn’t an easy answer here. Hopefully, the law and legal system can take additional steps to prevent future tragedies while recognizing everyone’s rights.
Michigan’s proposed law, available online, is Senate Bill 156.