New bill seeks “red flag” court orders to prevent gun violence, suicide

Over her 18 years as a district court judge, State Rep. Marcia Morey (D-Durham) heard the same sad story a number of times in the wake of gun violence.

“I heard cases where witnesses testified they knew something bad was going to happen,” Morey said at a press conference Tuesday. “It could have been prevented.”

Rep. Marcia Morey introduced her “red flag” bill Tuesday flanked by supporters.

On Tuesday Morey, Reps. Pricey Harrison (D-Guilford) and Grier Martin (D-Wake) filed House Bill 454 – which would allow for “extreme risk protection orders” to restrict someone’s access to guns if there is evidence they are a danger to themselves or others.

Similar “red flag bills” have been passed in 14 states and Washington D.C.

Under this bill, judges could issue the protection orders in a manner similar to domestic violence restraining orders. A partner, family member or law enforcement officer with first-hand knowledge of a potential danger could petition a district judge for the order.

If granted, law enforcement would be ordered to temporarily remove any firearms and schedule a hearing within 10 business days to determine the nature of the danger, if the weapons should be returned and whether the person needs treatment.

“This should not be a political debate,” Morey said, calling it a common-sense response to the uptick in mass shootings of the last few years.

“After the story is written, we find out there were warning signs,” Morey said.

A similar bill filed last year didn’t get a hearing. But the time is now for the state to move forward on this issue. Morey said. She pointed to a GOP-led panel debating a related federal bill Tuesday, led by Republican Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina.

The U.S. Senate bill, proposed by U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio (R- FL), would allocate $100 million in federal dollars over the next five years to states that implement “extreme risk protection orders.” Both Rubio and Graham have taken heat over the bill from gun groups.

While no Republican state lawmakers co-sponsored her current bill, Morey said, she has had some productive conversations about it with her GOP colleagues and some may eventually sign on.

Harrison emphasized that family members close to someone may be in the best position to see dangerous behavior – and prevent not just potential murders but also suicides.

Suicide accounts for nearly two-thirds of all gun deaths in the U.S., killing about 21,000 Americans a year. Possession of a gun triples the risk of suicide by gun, Harrison said – and it is the most deadly means of suicide, with a death rate of 85 percent for those who attempt it.

Martin recounted a deadly shooting committed by one of his classmates on Franklin Street when he was a law student at UNC-Chapel Hill. Flanked by the young activists of the March for Our Lives and Lobby for Our Lives movements at the press conference, Martin said he regrets that more hasn’t been done since then to give families and law enforcement a means to prevent such shootings before they happen.

“My generation failed to find a solution to the problem,” Martin said. “But I’m excited to see this generation step up and lead, step up and act.”

Not everyone is so enthused by the bill.

Paul Valone, president and co-founder of the gun rights group Grassroots North Carolina, said he’s concerned about the proliferation of such bills and expects them to be defeated in this state.

“I am concerned any time any state passes a gun control law which punishes the law abiding for the acts of the lawless,” Valone said.

Valone said so-called “red flag” laws should be called “gun confiscation laws” – and they violate the Bill of Rights.

“I defy you to find any other constitutional freedom guaranteed by the bill of rights that allow you to be deprived of your rights without due process,” Valone said. “A judge rubber stamps one of these gun confiscation orders. Normally a judge would issue a restraining order to a ham sandwich if need be.”

Valone had similar disdain for House Bill 456 , also filed Tuesday. That bill, sponsored by Morey, Harrison and Christy Clark (D-Mecklenburg), would require registration of long-guns as well as handguns.

Such laws are remnants of racist Jim Cow laws that gave local sheriffs the ability to deny licenses as they saw fit, Valone said. Those sorts of gun requirements should be repealed, Valone said, not expanded to new classes of guns.



One Comment

  1. Gene Ralno

    March 26, 2019 at 9:59 pm

    Red flag confiscation laws are being trumpeted by socialist-democrats right now because their usual gun control arguments are lopsided losers. They’ve been hoodwinked by Bloomberg’s rhetoric and haven’t read his 2018 data. It reveals gun homicides declined seven percent, firearm injuries declined 10 percent, fatal child shootings (under 18) declined 12 percent and unintentional shootings plummeted 21 percent.

    Further, a December 2018 Gallup Poll revealed that gun control is last on a list of what Americans cite as the most important problem facing the U.S. Seems government is the most important problem and immigration is second most important. Obviously, the socialist-democrats are pushing a solution in search of a problem.

    Unarguably, our government cannot be trusted with the 2nd Amendment, just as our founders warned us. The primary problem with this nationwide hysteria to enforce red flag laws is none are crafted with sufficient protections for the accused. Apparently, we’ve been deluding ourselves that the U.S. judiciary would rather let ten guilty parties go free than convict one innocent person.

    Additionally, these laws generally place enormous responsibility and pressure on police officers and judges to dispense pretrial punishment, just in case an owner might be mentally afflicted. This kind of punishment is overly severe to be based on amateur opinions afforded by all the red flag laws enacted thus far.

    Since we’re dealing with mentally troubled persons, the law should include analysis by licensed psychiatrists. Doubtlessly, we all know of judges and law officers who are far from qualified for such professional undertakings. I also doubt that they’d volunteer to diagnose mental illness if their jobs depended on doing it correctly.

    This movement makes it clear that democrats want control without responsibility. I used to wonder why leftists saturate media outlets with soothing pleas for conversation instead of acting on their clear and ultimate goal of total confiscation. I assumed they stopped short of the extreme because they know firearms owners won’t tolerate confiscation without unimaginable fury.

    Fact is leftists will temporarily settle for controlling little things like angry partners, bayonet lugs, ammunition taxes, bullet shapes and so on. But it’s still part of a common leftist flimflam. Eventually they’ll again get around to universal background checks that are impossible to manage without universal registration.

    They need a universal firearm registry because it fundamentally transforms 120 million owners into dependents. Once they know who the owners are, they’ll choose which of them are allowed to be licensed. It’s the consummate entitlement. The democrat party cannot survive without more than half the nation being dependent on the government. Leftists trade entitlements for votes. It’s the heart of their strategy.

    Justice requires that the accused be afforded at least a modicum of professional analysis and an official opinion by two or more psychiatrists. Leftists screech in the streets if denied a full measure of due process but close their eyes on the subject of self-defense by firearm. These laws open the doors to scorned partners, angry neighbors, children seeking a parent’s wealth and arrogant judges.

    They empower mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, sons, daughters, uncles, aunts, cousins, friends, neighbors, judges, police officers, boyfriends, girlfriends, classmates, teachers and everyone except those actually qualified to judge mental competence. Makes me wonder about the motive for this law.

    Predictably, these newly empowered classes will start lodging complaints against firearms owners they don’t personally know. These empowered classes will look at acquaintances who share residences with or live nearby firearms owners. Complaints soon will be lodged by former partners of acquaintances. Friends of former partners, unhappy in-laws, step children, et al., also will complain.

    In other words, those who know little about owners but are acquainted with those who do, will lodge charges that someone they know may be in danger. It’s complicated and absurd. To iterate, socialists are not interested in public safety. They hope to disarm the governed before dispatching the disobedient.

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