Lawmakers discuss 'red flag' law in Texas

Lawmakers discuss 'red flag' law in Texas

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LUBBOCK, Texas -

As part of his new school and gun safety plan, Governor Greg Abbott suggested exploring a law that would allow law enforcement to confiscate guns from people deemed "dangerous" by a judge. 

After Texas's second high-profile mass shooting, lawmakers are discussing whether this pro-gun state needs a "red flag" measure. Similar bills have yet to pass in the legislature, but this time the idea is coming from the Governors office.

"The devil is in the details," said Lubbock Representative John Frullo.  

Frullo said he will not support a bill that does not protect due process. 

"We don't want people running around saying, 'I think this person's crazy.' then take their guns away," said Frullo. "That's not the way we operate as a state." 

However, there is already laws in place enabling seizures through domestic violence cases. Defense Attorney Kristopher Espino said victims of domestic violence can file a petition with the court as a protective order. A judge can then decide to take away the violators weapons for a year or two.

"A judge has to, based on the evidence, there's a predictive element to it. There's that element of likely to commit a future act, domestic violence as well," Espino said.  

Espino said he believes the red flag law could work the same way. A judge decides whether the subject should have a gun based on given evidence.
However, there is certain instances that does not require a court order. For example, if the person is committing a crime, is suicidal or a convicted felon. 

"There not just going to randomly take guns from people without a substantial reason to do so," said Lubbock Sheriff's Department Lieutenant Jason Stewart.  

Stewart said when it comes to threats via social media, that is not enough. He said some of the social media threats may need to be investigated but are not grounds to confiscation.

An actual proposal has not come to life just yet. Until then, Senator Charles Perry said he will not take a stance.

"We don't have any legislation today, we dont' have anything that came out of the Governors plan today to say this a good deal or a bad deal. I trust the process to get us there," Perry said.  

Perry said he believes the laws in place were followed through they would prevent mass shootings. 

"We need to continue to raise awareness. We need to continue to put the tools of the hands in the people that are in contact to recognize problems and issues, but this whole-sale idea that we can just confiscate people's weapons and asking to check on people later is probably not going to be the final outcome," Perry said.  

Espino said it is a tricky law, but believes policy makers should put in the effort to make it work.

"If we can address things like taking your own personal liberty to be free, not in an institution then I'm pretty sure we can find a proper way to give due-respect to the constitution, to procedural due process, and to the second-amendment and trying to make society safer," Espino said.

Since the Parkland shooting, the number of states with red flag laws jumped from five to eleven. Most laws are similar, a party can ask a judge to remove someone's guns due to an imminent threat. Then the judge orders the guns to be surrendered temporarily. After a court hearing, the judge determines if the guns should continue to be held or returned to the owners.

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