State Rep. Movita Johnson-Harrell speaks at a rally during Gun Violence Awareness Day on Wednesday, June 5, 2019 (Capital-Star photo by John L. Micek)
Good Thursday Morning, Fellow Seekers.
With yet another mass shooting refocusing public attention on America’s protracted debate over gun control, there appears to be bipartisan consensus around one potential remedy: So-called ‘Red Flag’ laws that would allow a court to seize someone’s weapons if it’s believed they pose an immediate threat to themselves or to public safety.
In all, 17 states, along with Washington D.C. have such statutes. And the data appears to indicate that they’re working. Nonetheless, civil libertarians have raised due process concerns. That includes Pennsylvania, where Red Flag laws are now before the state House and Senate.
Our friends at Stateline.org neatly summed up the current, nationwide debate over due process in a piece posted earlier this week, finding that “most red flag laws are vague on what constitutes a ‘significant danger’ [to public safety], which gives courts broad discretion to seize firearms, Parris said. And in some states, respondents are not guaranteed representation in court, since these are civil and not criminal matters.”
In the year since Florida enacted its Red Flag law in the wake of the mass shooting at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., attorney Kendra Parris told Stateline that she’s defended around 20 clients who were facing risk protection orders.
Parris told Stateline the statute is “almost like a shiny new toy for law enforcement,” who have been “filing them left and right.” Since Parkland, six states, and Washington D.C. have enacted such statutes, Stateline reported.
Dave Kopel, the research director at the Denver-based Independence Institute, a libertarian think tank, chimed in, telling Statelinte that legislatures “have taken the same approach President Donald Trump spoke in favor of in March 2018: ‘Take the guns first, go through due process second.'”
Pennsylvania state Rep. Todd Stephens, the Montgomery County Republican who’s sponsoring a Red Flag bill in the majority-GOP state House, told the Capital-Star earlier this year that he’s gone through his bill line-by-line to dispel critics’ fear about any infringement on their constitutionally protected due process rights.
Stephens bill provides for both the short-term seizure of someone’s weapons as well as a longer, months-long ban that carries with it a higher standard of evidence.
“Gun owners across Pennsylvania don’t realize that they can be disarmed for life without a judge ever saying a word,” Stephens told the Capital-Star, referring to state and federal law banning someone from owning a gun if they’ve been subject to an involuntary commitment. “So when you compare [extreme risk protection orders] with what the status quo is, it’s a win for gun owners.”
The Senate Judiciary Committee is set to hold two days’ worth of hearings on gun-safety measures on Sept. 24 and Sept 25. A Senate Red Flag proposal, sponsored by Sen. Tom Killion, R-Delaware, is likely to be on the docket for those hearings.
In an Aug. 23 op-Ed for the Capital-Star, Killion wrote that his legislation would protect due process rights “of all involved.”
“This law would create a transparent process in which judges can only order the relinquishment of firearms if there is compelling evidence that individuals pose a serious danger,” he wrote. “Long-term orders can only be issued after a full hearing is held, at which all parties can appear and present evidence.”
Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf has urged lawmakers to pass the Red Flag bills when they return to session later this month.
Stephen Caruso looks at one Pa. Republican’s effort to block the Wolf administration’s push for gender-neutral driving licenses.
A stagnant minimum wage, mired at $7.25/hr., and a lack of family-positive laws means Pennsylvania finished in the middle rank of states for its worker friendliness, according to a new Oxfam America report.
On our Commentary Page, an Altoona pharmacist explains why Pa. is paying more for prescription drugs through its Medicaid program.
Former Republican U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta will not run for Congress in 2020. The onetime U.S. Senate candidate will focus on his consulting firm instead, PennLive reports.
The Inquirer looks at how area colleges and universities are balancing informing students and not scaring them about active shooter incidents. Because that’s the world we live in now.
The death of a Penn Hills toddler who disappeared over the weekend has been ruled a homicide, the Post-Gazette reports. In a slender mercy, there were no signs of trauma, the DA’s office says.
The Morning Call attended a naturalization ceremony in Lehigh County on Wednesday, amid cheers and tears.
A panel of leaders convened in Pittsburgh on Wednesday to discuss domestic terrorism, the Tribune-Review reports.
Here’s your #Philadelphia Instagram of the Day:
Center City developers are the largest beneficiaries of Philadelphia’s tax abatement, WHYY-FM reports.
Some Philadelphia neighborhoods have snazzy, crime-fighting LED streetlights — others will have to wait their turn, BillyPenn reports.
Election security advocates are faulting the Department of State over the agency’s ‘secret’ re-examination of voting machines, the PA Post reports.
The U.S. Health & Human Services Department has renewed Pennsylvania’s $55.9 million grant that helps people living with opioid addiction, WITF-FM reports.
PoliticsPA has the details on a group, linked to former President Barack Obama, that’s helping to fight gerrymandering in Pennsylvania and other states.
More cities and states are moving to ban fur clothing, Stateline.org reports.
Politico looks ahead to a fall filled with Trump rallies and the shenanigans that come with them.
What Goes On.
Auditor General Eugene DePasquale holds an 11 a.m. newser in the Capitol Media Center on helping Pa’s volunteer fire companies.
Gov. Tom Wolf heads to Fort Indiantown Gap to bid bon chance to departing Pa. Guard personnel who are headed out on a deployment.
What Goes On (Nakedly Political Edition).
2 p.m.: Reception for Rep. Bill Kortz
5 p.m.: Reception for Rep. Keith Greiner
6 p.m.: Reception for Sen. Kim Ward
Ride the circuit, and give at the max, and you’ll be out a mere $7,000 today.
You Say It’s Your BIrthday Dept.
Have a birthday — your own or someone else’s — you want noted in this space? Drop us a line at [email protected].
Because some days you just want to defiantly kick it old school. Here’s ‘Redemption Song,’ by Bob Marley & The Wailers.
Thursday’s Gratuitous Soccer Link.
The Guardian has 10 things to look for in the Euro 2020 classifiers.
And now you’re up to date.
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