President Trump confirmed on Friday that he would support stricter firearms regulations, including a proposal to strengthen the federal background check system and raising the minimum age for buying a semi-automatic weapon to 21 – something the powerful National Rifle Association has said it opposes.
Trump also reiterated his support for training members of school staffs to carry concealed weapons:
“A teacher would have shot the hell out of him before he knew what happened,”
But, as Bloomberg reports, The White House is considering the idea of using restraining orders to take firearms away from people considered “dangerous” as part of its response to last week’s massacre at a Florida high school, two people familiar with the matter said.
Under extreme risk protection orders, which are also known as red flag laws or gun violence restraining orders, firearms can be confiscated from people found to be at risk.
As The New Yorks Times reports, it is difficult to measure the effectiveness of red flag laws, in part because it is impossible to count mass shootings, or other tragedies, that were avoided.
That said, the authorities in states with the laws, including Connecticut, Indiana, Oregon and Washington, say they have seen patterns: upticks in the use of such laws after mass shootings in other places.
The measures were also used in situations far different from the mass shooting scenarios they were originally conceived to prevent. Most often, guns were removed from people not seen as threats to large groups or public gatherings, but as risks to themselves or to their families, or suffering from debilitating illnesses such as Alzheimer’s or alcoholism.
Bloomberg confirms that The White House is studying an Indiana version of the law, and is considering other measures as well, according to the people, who requested anonymity to discuss policy deliberations. Four other states also have such laws.
At the White House on Thursday, Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi described to President Donald Trump similar efforts underway in her state to allow law enforcement to seize firearms from someone who is deemed to be a danger to themselves or others.
“Good,” Trump responded.
Which raises yet another troubling question for the many law-abiding citizens of America – who defines “dangerous”?
What happens if – just as The IRS did – Tea-Party followers were deemed dangerous by the government?
What if someone retweeted (accidentally as a ‘useful idiot’) an anarchy-inducing Russian bot’s propaganda? Would they be dangerous, too?
Or if someone openly threatened – or called for – the death of the president? Sounds like a danger to some?
EverytownResearch claims that Red Flag Laws have robust due process protections.
Final orders – which generally last for up to one year—can only be issued after notice and an opportunity to be heard. At the hearing, the person would have the chance to respond to evidence that they are too dangerous to have a gun.
A temporary order – which typically lasts 14 to 21 days—can be issued before a full hearing is held, but only if there’s clear evidence that an order is necessary to prevent immediate danger.
“It’s fair to say that everyone, law enforcement included, is learning how this law might work — in the process of using it,” said Garen Wintemute, a professor of emergency medicine and director of the Violence Prevention Research Program at the Sacramento campus of the University of California, Davis.
Finally, what should we do with “dangerous” people who also have these ‘weapons’?