The following is a video transcript.
These days it seems red flag laws are on everyone’s mind. What is a red flag law? How do red flag laws affect gun owners’ rights? And what is the current status of red flag laws in Georgia?
Extreme Risk Protection Orders
Extreme risk protection orders, also known as red flag laws, are a form of protective order that allow law enforcement officers to remove firearms from the possession of individuals who have been found by a judge to be a risk to themselves or others. These types of orders, very much like domestic violence protective orders, allow a judicial officer to take a complaint or report from a law enforcement officer, family member, or health professional ex parte, meaning outside the presence of the person who is the subject of the order.
This means the gun owner will not know about the proceeding and will not be able to present a defense. If the judge finds sufficient evidence to believe this individual A) is a threat or risk to himself, herself, or others; and B) possesses firearms, then the judge can order all firearms in the gun owner’s possession confiscated by law enforcement on a temporary basis. In most states with established red flag procedures, the immediate ex parte order and confiscation is followed by a hearing that will allow the target—now known as the respondent—to present evidence to overcome the initial decision that he or she is a threat. At this hearing, the temporary protective order can be extended for up to a full year.
Other State Statutes
Currently, 17 states and the District of Columbia have extreme risk protection order processes established by statute. Georgia is not among those 17 states. There are no red flag statutes in Georgia; no mechanism for extreme risk protection orders.
Domestic Violence Protection Orders
Firearms can be confiscated as part of domestic violence protection orders, but obviously not everyone falls within the reach of a domestic violence protection order, as those must be brought by someone with whom a domestic relationship exists or has existed. Depending on the state, more individuals than just a domestic partner can bring an action for an extreme risk protection order.
Currently, there are no established laws allowing federal extreme risk protection orders. However, there have been various bills introduced recently in Congress—both in the House and in the Senate. In short: no extreme risk protection order laws exist in Georgia, but federal legislation is pending in several different versions and there is always a possibility the law can change.
For more information on red flag laws in Georgia or in any state, please call U.S. LawShield and ask to speak to your Independent Program Attorney.