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Red flag bill would separate people deemed dangerous from firearms

James Case

A new bill in the state house would allow family members and law enforcement to petition a judge to temporarily take guns away from people deemed a threat.

Under the legislation, a judge could ban someone from purchasing firearms and order law enforcement to take their firearms away for up to a year.

Democratic Representative Robert Wittenberg is the bill sponsor. He said under current law a person has to commit a crime before law enforcement can step in. Wittenberg said he wants to change that.

“So if there are these red flags that family members or law enforcement see with a person specifically they can go to a judge and get this order granted.”

Wittenberg said the bill wouldn’t just help prevent mass shootings.

“When you’re talking about gun deaths over two-thirds happen to be suicide. So we look at this as a tool for family members and law enforcement can step in and just put a pause so that these people can get the help that they need.”

He said the bill also includes safeguards against false reporting.

“A family member or law enforcement has to present evidence and show why this person is a threat and they need to get help.”

Under the bill, a person could have their weapon seized for one year.

Wittenberg introduced similar legislation last year, but he said he’s hopeful this bill can get the bipartisan support it needs to pass.