After the tragedy in Santa Fe, Governor Abbott requested that the issue of school shootings be examined to see if new legislation would help prevent further terrible acts. Soon the Texas legislature will consider what proponents called “red flag protective orders.” These orders were made popular by their prominent use in California to confiscate firearms from those deemed to be a danger to themselves or others.
Folks in support of these laws claim they simultaneously protect due process, stop mass murder, and reduce suicides. Here in Texas, the legislature decided not to pass a 2017 version of the red flag law, in a bill that would have allowed confiscation of all firearms from accused individuals. Rather than protecting our due process rights as Texans, that bill would have allowed the seizure of firearms based only on statements made by a current or former family member without the accused individual having the opportunity to be heard.
The argument by national and state gun control organizations that this type of law could prevent mass murder was not openly accepted. This is because the accused was not even required to be taken into custody. The bill simply allowed for the seizure of their firearms and sent the accused back into the world free to perpetrate mayhem by using another weapon of their choice, like a knife, bomb, or a car.
The argument by gun control advocates that this type of law could help prevent suicide and mass murder would be more believable if the legislation included any number of safeguards, including a mental health evaluation or treatment component.
With all this proposed legislation, how can you make a difference? Stay informed and make sure your voice is heard. Contact your representatives, and partner with organizations that are active in making sure legislation reflects the wants and needs of the law-abiding gun owner. A good example, by no means the only one, is the Texas State Rifle Association.
Lawmakers should do more than pay lip service to the constitutional requirement of due process, and they need to address the mental health component, including a thorough review of tools that currently exist for dealing with individuals who may be a danger to themselves or others. As always, we will keep you updated with any changes or proposed changes to our laws here in Texas.
If you have any further questions about gun laws, call Texas LawShield and ask to speak to an Independent Program Attorney today.