‘Red flag’ gun bill clears US House
WASHINGTON — Democrats passed a “red flag” gun law in the House of Representatives on Thursday without help from Republicans in Arkansas.
All four members of the Arkansas House voted against the bill, which allows a court to temporarily bar someone from owning or buying a firearm if they are suspected of posing a risk to them yourself or for others.
If enacted, police, family and household members could ask a court for an order temporarily prohibiting a person from buying or possessing firearms. Anyone seeking an order should submit a signed affidavit explaining why they believe a person poses a risk.
Proponents of “red flag” laws claim the legislation has the ability to stop mass shootings and gun suicides.
The push for tougher gun laws comes in the wake of an elementary school shooting in Uvalde, Texas that left 19 students and two teachers dead.
U.S. Representative Rick Crawford of Jonesboro said “red flag” laws are not the answer.
“I don’t think we solve our gun problems by attacking law-abiding citizens. It has the potential to do that,” he said Thursday.
Thursday’s measure, which passed the House by a vote of 224 to 202, is unlikely to clear the Senate. Five House Republicans voted for the bill while one Democrat voted against it.
A bipartisan group of senators discussed how to respond to the Texas shooting.
The Congressional Budget Office estimated that about 10,000 petitions would come out each year under the bill.
US Representative Lucy McBath, sponsor of the legislation, said during the debate on Thursday that her bill would empower loved ones and law enforcement “to help prevent mass shootings before they happen.” produce”.
“Every family in every community in our country deserves access to these lifesaving measures. No child, no parent deserves to live in fear of gun violence,” McBath, a Democrat from Georgia, said during a speech delivered in the House. “And we pay for it. We pay for this gun violence every day. Day after day. Hour after hour.”
U.S. Representative Mike Johnson, a Republican from Louisiana, spoke out against the bill during a House speech, saying it would allow courts to take guns away from people without notice.
Johnson said Democrats have refused “to work with us on legislation that would actually do something, that would actually reduce the rate of gun violence in this country.”
U.S. Representative Steve Womack of Rogers on Thursday declined to comment to the Democrat-Gazette on why he voted against the “red flag” legislation.
US Representative French Hill and US Representative Bruce Westerman were unavailable for interviews Thursday.
However, Westerman released a statement after the vote saying the bill “was an outright violation of Americans’ right to due process, which is a fundamental tenet of our Constitution.”
In a statement Wednesday, Hill of Little Rock said it did not support the “red flag” measure because “it violates an individual’s due process rights and Second Amendment rights.”
Arkansas gun safety advocates chastised the state’s United States House delegation for not voting for the bill.
“By refusing to cross that line and stand on the side of reason, they’re going to get more children killed and the blood will be on their hands,” said Kate Fletcher, a longtime volunteer with the Arkansas chapter of Moms. Demand Action, which advocates gun safety legislation.
Thursday’s vote came a day after the Arkansas House delegation also voted against raising the purchase age for semi-automatic weapons from 18 to 21. They also voted against banning the sale, manufacture and possession of large capacity ammunition magazines, with some exceptions. The legislation passed the House in a vote close to the party line.
“I find it baffling that our elected officials have decided to absolutely ignore their constituents while we are yelling at them to do something to protect our communities,” Fletcher said.
Eve Jorgensen, a volunteer leader with the Arkansas chapter of Moms Demand Action, said many mass shooters were showing clear warning signs.
“People around them know that person is unstable. And yet time and time again they may go out and buy a gun,” she said.
As for Thursday’s House delegation vote, she said they were “voting with the gun lobby.”
Nineteen states, not including Arkansas, have passed “red flag” legislation, according to Everytown for Gun Safety, a gun safety advocacy organization.
In 2019, the so-called red flag legislation before the Arkansas legislature failed in committee. There was no major push for similar legislation in the 2021 legislative session, advocates said.
Proponents of stricter gun laws also claim that “red flag” laws can prevent gun access to someone in crisis, preventing them from harming themselves.
In 2020, Arkansas had the 8th highest gun death rate among US states, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The rate includes homicides, suicides and other types of deaths.
Womack, in a statement released Wednesday after voting against the measure to raise the age of purchase of semi-automatic weapons, said “the focus must be on strengthening schools, supporting health intelligence, expanding information sharing, and proactively identifying and stopping threats.”
“I wish we could focus on what would make school safer for kids instead of attacking the Second Amendment, which Democrats obviously took this opportunity to do,” Westerman said during a briefing. interview Wednesday about efforts to strengthen gun laws.