‘Red flag’ gun safety legislation stalled, opponents call it flawed

Posted at 5:53 PM, Aug 05, 2019

LANSING, Mich. -- With two more mass shootings resulting in the deaths of dozens of innocent people, there are gun safety bills stalled in Michigan's House and Senate.

They're known as "extreme risk protection orders" or "red flag" legislation and are designed to protect those who may hurt themselves or others. However, legislators say the bills haven't gone anywhere since their introduction in February.

"I'm afraid the longer we wait there's a chance something like this could happen to us here in Michigan," State Rep. Robert Wittenberg, D-Huntington Woods, said.

He's the founder and chair of the legislative Gun Violence Prevention Caucus, and said he's introduced a red flag bill three times in each of his three terms.

Wittenberg said family or law enforcement can help prevent tragedy by proving to a judge that a person is a threat to themselves or others.

"And then they're able to temporarily seize their weapons and get them the help that they need and prevent them from buying new weapons," Wittenberg explained.

"And it's temporary," he emphasized.

But Wittenberg said there's been no hearings on any of the bills and no bipartisan support.

"I've had conversations with Republicans, my colleagues in the House that say they're supportive, but they're just not willing to put their name to co-sponsor but if we bring it to a vote they would be supportive," he said.

State Sen. Rosemary Bayer, D-Beverly Hills, said, "To be perfectly honest, I think it has every to do with campaign finance."

Bayer introduced an accompanying bill in the Senate alongside the House bill in February. She believes the resistance comes from many of the lawmakers who accept donations from National Rifle Association.

"I hope the president's comments about how we need to have some kind of red flag legislation that could be the motivation that people start thinking about this a little bit differently at the state level. We can move a lot faster at the state level," Bayer said.

A spokesperson for the Michigan Coalition for Responsible Gun Owners said red flag bills like these are fundamentally flawed and mechanisms are already in place to help people who need this type of attention.