Ignore red flag law at extreme risk to yourself and others

If it’s people with guns that kill people, not the guns, let’s take the guns away from them.
That is, people who clearly pose a threat to others — who demonstrate violent behavior online or in person — cannot be ignored until it’s too late.
Last week, President Trump backed a bipartisan call for legislation in Congress to encourage states to enact what’s referred to as “red flag” laws, formally known as extreme risk protection orders.
That legislation would provide grants to states to facilitate law enforcement working with mental health agencies to keep guns away from violent people via a court order.
The courts act or not on petitions, usually from family members, in the 17 states where red flag provisions are already on the books.
Some of those states also allow for a co-worker, law enforcement or even a school administrator to file such a petition. Obviously, the case for such a court order must be convincing and the subject of the petition can respond.
If the court approves the order then law enforcement removes any firearms from the individual and stores them temporarily. If the court deems the petitioner filed a false claim, he or she can face criminal charges.
Some will argue that’s a slippery slope — what’s to stop a court from confiscating your cell phone based on what someone testifies you might do next?
For one thing we don’t see our courts, our family members, law enforcement and others conspiring to take away our liberty, our guns or anything else without due process.
For another, guns are in a category of their own. You cannot massacre nine people and wound 14 others in 32 seconds with anything besides a semi-automatic firearm.
Last week, two state House of Delegates members — both Democrats — announced support for a red flag provision.
Within hours, 27 Republican House members signed off on a release decrying any such effort in January.
Such legislation looks to be a long shot in our Legislature and in our state, where guns — forget being a hobby — have even become a part of a person’s politics and identity.
Yet, we are reminded of a couple of sentences in one of our favorite novels, “To Kill a Mockingbird,” when a father, Atticus Finch, explains courage to his daughter, Scout.
“I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. It’s when you know you’re licked before you begin, but you begin anyway and see it through no matter what.”
We urge lawmakers — Democrats and Republicans — to introduce a red flag bill next year in the Legislature whether they’re licked or not.
Someone who has proven they are unfit to own a gun should not own a gun. Period.

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