Democrats Introduce ‘Red Flag’ Bills to Help Prevent Gun Violence

LANSING, Mich. (Feb. 1, 2022) — Michigan Senate Democrats have introduced bills to create extreme risk protection order (ERPO) laws, or ‘red flag’ laws, to temporarily prohibit a person from possessing firearms if their behavior raises a ‘red flag’ that they could be a threat to themselves or others.

Senate Bills 856-858 were introduced by Sens. Rosemary Bayer (D-Beverly Hills), Erika Geiss (D-Taylor) and Mallory McMorrow (D-Royal Oak). If passed, Michigan would become the 20th state in the nation to enact red flag legislation.

“Extreme risk protection orders save lives by allowing family members and law enforcement to act before warning signs escalate into tragedies, like the one we recently saw happen at Oxford High School in my district on November 30th last year,” Sen. Bayer said. “Michigan needs red flag laws on the books to not only help us prevent the next school shooting, but so that we can also help protect our loved ones in their darkest hour.”

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2019 there were 39,707 firearm-related deaths in the U.S., which equates out to 109 people dying from a firearm-related injury each day. Six out of every 10 deaths were firearm suicides and more than three out of every 10 were firearm homicides.

The introduced legislation would allow a judge to issue an ERPO after the court considers testimony, documents, and other evidence in support of the request, including whether the person had previously inflicted, or threatened to inflict, personal injury or harm to others, and any other facts the court deems relevant. Once an order is issued, law enforcement could then take temporary possession of the individual’s firearms, and the individual would be prohibited from purchasing new firearms while the order remains in effect.

“We need to stop the spread of gun violence, which is an epidemic not just in Michigan, but across the country,” Sen. Bayer added. “This is commonsense legislation that would prevent suicides, protect women from domestic violence, and stop mass shooters from carrying out a planned attack. As legislators, we have a responsibility to act and provide law enforcement with the tools they need to keep our communities safe.”

As of 2021, 19 states and the District of Columbia have enacted some form of red flag laws, which are supported by most Americans, including gun owners. Connecticut was the first state to enact a red flag law in 1999, followed by Indiana (2005), California (2014), Washington (2016), and Oregon (2018). After the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Fla. on Feb. 14, 2018, Florida, Vermont, Maryland, Rhode Island, New Jersey, Delaware, Massachusetts, Illinois, and the District of Columbia enacted laws. New York, Colorado, Nevada, and Hawaii passed laws in 2019. In 2020, New Mexico became the 18th state to enact such legislation, and in April 2020, Virginia became the 19th.

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