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Senate Judiciary Committee Holds Gun Control Hearing on Red Flag Laws

The Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on gun control regulation known as red flag laws Tuesday, following a week in which three people from communities affected by a mass shooting died in apparent suicides.

Red flag laws—also called extreme risk protection orders—allow law enforcement or civilians to petition a judge to have firearms removed from the possession of someone who they believe is at risk of harming themselves or others. The individual has the opportunity to protest the order. If it’s enacted, however, they may not purchase or posses a firearm for a minimum of 180 days.

Fourteen states plus D.C. already have some form of red flag laws on the books, and other states have considered similar legislation.

Tuesday’s scheduled meeting allowed the Judiciary Committee to hear from a sheriff, a gun control advocate, a research director and law professor, a firearms prosecutor, and a representative from the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

Those in favor of red flag laws state the regulation can prevent violence, particularly suicides. Those in opposition argue that unless the law addresses the value of the second amendment and provides for due process, it can be used to disarm innocent people.

The hearing comes as the public is becoming increasingly aware of the trauma caused by mass shootings. Over the past week, two Parkland students and a father whose six-year-old daughter died in the Sandy Hook shooting each died in apparent suicides.

Red flag laws provide a temporary solution to those who family or friends may believe are a danger to themselves or others. The regulation has support from both sides of the isle: Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-SC) co-sponsored legislation with Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) proposing federal red flag laws after the 2018 Parkland school shooting, but it was unsuccessful. Sen. Marco Rubio re-introduced bipartisan legislation on red flag laws earlier this year, and the White House as shown support for such preventative laws as well.