Lauren Johnson, a U.S. Air Force reservist from Philadelphia, speaks during a state Capitol rally on Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2019 where she called on lawmakers to pass a Red Flag law bill (Capital-Star photo).
By John A. Tures
Are you the parent of a schoolchild, a teacher, a student, or related to any of these three? If so, the killings from Uvalde, Texas to Oxford Township, Michigan and dozens of others have been a gut-punch to you. Yet a solution is not only possible, but within our grasp. Read this and see how you can make a difference, and change history.
You recognize these lives are precious, and while we’re given the power to pray, we’re also given free will and a moral responsibility to solve problems and protect people. And there’s something we could do that has bipartisan support from politicians and voters from both parties. It’s worked in America, in red and blue states, where it’s been adopted. It’s the “red flag law.”
A red flag law “officially known as extreme risk laws, allow family members or law enforcement officials to prevent an individual from accessing a gun if they believe the person is in crisis. ‘These laws permit immediate family members and law enforcement to petition a civil court for an order—often called an extreme risk protection order (ERPO)—to temporarily remove guns from dangerous situations,’” writes Everytown for Gun Safety, according to Newsweek.
Red Flag laws work in red and blue states
As of April of 2021, 19 states passed and implemented red flag laws, according to Newsweek: “The states are: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia and Washington.”
I compared the firearm death rates, compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, from these 19 states to the 31 states which did not pass a red flag law.
The seven states with the lowest firearm death rates also have something in common: a red flag law. I also found that the firearm death rate in states with a red flag law is only 11.26 per 100,000 residents, far less than the average firearm death rate for states without a red flag law (17.5 per 100,000 residents). The difference in means is also statistically significant.
Red Flag laws are supported by Republicans and Democrats
U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has signaled a willingness to work with Democrats on gun legislation.
As of the writing of this op-Ed, “Democratic Sens. Chris Murphy, Joe Manchin, Kyrsten Sinema, Martin Heinrich and Richard Blumenthal attended the lunch with Republican Sens. Susan Collins, Pat Toomey, Lindsey Graham and Bill Cassidy, who joined by phone,” according to CBS News, as posted by MSN.com.
Bloomberg reports that Marco Rubio, and Rick Scott have also supported red flag legislation, and Georgia Rep. Lucy McBath has been given the green light by House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer to introduce national red flag legislation.
Reuters reports that 70 percent of people polled prefer red flag laws, adding “79 percent of people – and 78 percent of Republicans – said they would be more likely to support a candidate who supported passing background checks and red flag laws for all new gun purchases.”
Here’s what you can do
Contact your legislators in the U.S. Congress and state legislature today, should you choose to make a difference. Please don’t let another massacre occur without wondering whether you might have done something to at least try to stop it.
Opinion contributor John A. Tures is a professor of political science at LaGrange College in LaGrange, Ga. His work appears frequently on the Capital-Star’s Commentary Page. His views are his own. Readers may email him at [email protected], and follow him on Twitter at @JohnTures2.
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