State wants to expand red flag law, let family members, doctors and nurses petition to remove guns

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Connecticut prides itself on being called “The Constitution State.” It is also one of the leading anti-gun states in the country. Even before the unspeakable tragedy at Sandy Hook, Connecticut was the first state in the nation to implement a so-called “red flag “law, passing it in 1999.

Not happy with that distinction, Connecticut legislators want to double down on the law, having proposed a bill that would broaden who would be able to request the removal of guns from people deemed to be a danger to themselves or others.

As effective as our law has been, it’s not as robust as we have seen in best practices in other states,” said Rep. Steven Stafstrom, a Democrat from Bridgeport, and co-chair of the Judiciary Committee.

“These are critical changes in order to make this law work better for us and for the state of Connecticut.”

Under current law, certain officials can ask the court to remove firearms from those who could pose a threat of harm to themselves or others. Since Connecticut passed the law, other states have followed the lead as mass shootings have increased across the country.

After the shooting in 2018 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida, ten other states have adopted red flag laws.

According to a 2017 Duke University study, from 2009 to 2013, Connecticut’s red flag law prevented at least one suicide for every 20 gun seizures.

“What we’ve done is look specifically at the other states that have passed risk warrant statutes in the past several years and look at the best practices for those and try to combine them into a bill that updates the existing law we have on the books,” said Stafstrom.

Between 1999 and August 2019, about 2,000 risk warrants were issued in Connecticut.

Under current law, prosecutors and police can ask a judge to temporarily seize a person’s guns. The law, proposed by Stafstrom, along with Sen. Gary Winfield would add relatives and medical professionals, such as physicians, nurses and psychologists to that list.

According to Winfield, making Connecticut’s law stronger can save lives.

“While Connecticut led the way with its own risk warrant law in 1999, numerous states have since passed stronger measures, and it is time for our state to do the same,” he said when announcing the bill Wednesday.

“Strengthening Connecticut’s ability to remove firearms from individuals who may harm themselves or others is an important piece of making our communities safer. Together we can save lives.”

Spoken like a true liberal SJW.

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Gun rights groups have spoken out against the bill.

One area of concern is the fact that there is no requirement that law enforcement conduct any type of investigation before relatives or medical personnel make a court complaint seeking gun seizures while prosecutors and police are required to do so, said Holly Sullivan, president of the Connecticut Citizens Defense League.

She called the bill a “phony solution created by the same politicians who fail to hold accountable actual violent criminals who steal guns and commit other crimes.”

Sullivan added that residents should be concerned about a precedent being set and how far the government will be allowed to reach.

This latest push for a red flag law enhancement in Connecticut comes as the gun debate is raging nationwide. Virginia, in particular has been ground zero for the liberal anti-gun Democrat’s attempt to drive the anti-Second Amendment charge. In that state, Republicans have pushed back on a number of proposed gun-control laws proposed by the Bloomberg/Soros funded Democratic-led General Assembly.

The Connecticut proposal, in addition to expanding who would be allowed to request guns be seized would limit a “person in crisis” from obtaining a firearm. There’s a buzzword for you…who defines “person in crisis?”

Stafstrom asked:

“But what about for the person who says, ‘I’m going to go out and buy a gun and kill myself?’ If somebody is shown to be an imminent risk of harm to themselves or others, just because they don’t currently possess a gun doesn’t mean they won’t go out to try to acquire one and use it.”

The new proposal would also allow judges to use their discretion as to the length of time that each protective order is in effect for.

Under the current law, residents cannot get their guns back before the year-long warrant expires, however his proposal would allow a judge to indefinitely remove a person’s guns, but allow the subject of a warrant to petition the court to get their guns back after 180 days, and then every 180 days going forward.

“This would basically provide more flexibility to the judge in terms of the length of the order and the application process where you could get your firearm back earlier or if the order could stay in place after the year,” said Stafstrom.

Wouldn’t you like to bet how many are able to get their weapons back after the 180 days vs how many lose their guns permanently?

Of course, the usual assortment of anti-gun zealots were out in force at a news conference. Stacey Mayer from the Connecticut chapter of failed presidential candidate billionaire Michael Bloomberg’s anti-gun group Moms Demand Acton for Gun Sense in America, said updating of the current law will allow the state to remain a leader on gun reform.

“They’re all commonsense updates to a law that has been proven to work already, but with these changes will be even more effective and can help save even more lives.”

The bill is scheduled for a public hearing in Hartford on Wednesday, March 11.

Bridgitte Prince of East Hartford, a U.S. military veteran thinks the law is a good idea.

“There are a lot of times where you now somebody personally and you don’t want to get the law enforcement involved but you want to help. You’re dealing with veterans with PTSD and a lot of other health issues,” she said.

Rep. Doug Dubitsky, a Republican lawmaker thinks the law is fine as it is.

“Our existing law is good the way it is. There is no neutral arbiter in this process. There’s just somebody with a gripe going directly to a court. There’s no investigation. That’s a big problem,” he said.

Dubitsky then cited the example of a domestic violence victim unknowingly having their firearm taken away by a violent spouse, leaving them unprotected.

“The police are going to go in and investigate. The police are going to look to see if there’s really an issue here,” he said. “Judges in this state are very likely to grant thee things without any type of significant evidence.

There have already been cases in other states where people who were embroiled in a simple dispute or disagreement had their guns seized after the person filed a court complaint claiming they were a “danger to themselves or others.”

These laws are rife for abuse. The absence of reasonable due process prior to a seizure in these instances should automatically disqualify the legislation. 


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