Congress wants more red-flag laws. But GOP states, gun groups resist.
After 17 high school students and staff were killed by a mass shooter in 2018, Pennsylvania state Rep. Todd Stephens watched his GOP cohorts in Florida rally around a new red-flag law.
Such measures, which aim to temporarily remove guns from people at risk of harming themselves or others, found rare bipartisan accord there after the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School massacre as a way to reduce gun violence without violating the Second Amendment.
But when Stephens was inspired by Florida’s success to propose a similar measure in Pennsylvania, his Republican colleagues stalled it out, arguing that it could infringe gun owners’ constitutional rights, spark costly court battles or become a vengeful tool for people to disarm their enemies….
Gun rights groups have also pursued legal challenges against the laws. Thus far, courts have consistently found that the laws violate neither the Second Amendment nor the Fourth Amendment, which protects law-abiding citizens from unreasonable searches and seizures. Federal district courts in Indiana in 2013, in Connecticut in 2016 and in Florida last year have all upheld red-flag laws.
But Mike Hammond, a lobbyist and legislative counsel with Gun Owners of America, said groups like his believe they now stand a better chance at prevailing, thanks to the Supreme Court’s ruling last month tossing out a century-old gun-control measure in New York. The ruling could create a new framework for judges to evaluate gun-control challenges, according to several constitutional experts.
“I think that a lot of us were just holding our fire, so to speak, until we found out how the Supreme Court was going to rule,” Hammond said. “Given how they ruled, you’ll see a large number of challenges coming up subsequently.”