House Passes ‘Red Flag’ Bill, but Prospects in Senate Doubtful
WASHINGTON — House Democrats passed a “red flag” bill on Thursday that would allow police and even family members to ask a federal judge to order the removal of firearms from individuals deemed to be at extreme risk of harming themselves or others.
The 224-202 vote came a day after the Democratic caucus also passed a wide-ranging gun control bill that would raise the age limit for purchasing a semi-automatic rifle and prohibit the sale of ammunition magazines with a capacity of more than 15 rounds.
But even as the latest bill on the highly charged issue advanced to the Senate, House Republicans lambasted the legislation, calling the “red flag” bill a license for the federal government to seize law-abiding gun owners’ weapons without them having the ability to contest it beforehand.
At the moment, neither bill appears to have a chance of passing in the Senate.
Under the “red flag” bill, which was originally introduced by Rep. Lucy McBath, D-Ga., in April 2021, a federal court could issue an order to temporarily remove and store the firearms until a hearing can be held, up to two weeks later, to determine whether the firearms should be returned or kept for a specific period.
McBath is a longtime advocate for gun control, having lost her son to gun violence a decade ago.
During the House Democrats’ weekly press conference on Wednesday, McBath referred to herself as a “mom on a mission” since the death of her son.
“We cannot be the only nation in the developed world where our children are torn apart on Tuesday and their deaths are gone from the news cycle by Wednesday,” she said.
“That is why I am so grateful for this leadership and for our caucus in working to get my ‘red flag’ bill and all of our bills, this phenomenal package that will save lives, to the floor this week,” she added.
The Congressional Budget Office projects that the bill would lead to roughly 10,000 emergency petitions being filed annually with the courts.
The bill would also create a grant program to be administered by the U.S. Department of Justice to encourage states to adopt “red flag” laws and support the 19 states that have already implemented them.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi also brought up the legislation during her weekly briefing with reporters on Thursday.
“Why wouldn’t you, if you knew that a family member or someone else made disturbing comments to you or menacing comments on the internet, why would you not make sure they did not have access to guns to do harm to themselves or someone else?” Pelosi asked at one point.
She also pointed out the bill had some bipartisan support on the House floor.
Five Republicans — Reps. Brian Fitzpatrick, R-Pa., Anthony Gonzalez, R-Ohio., Chris Jacobs, R-N.Y., Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., and Fred Upton, R-Mich. — voted for the bill while one democrat — Jared Golden, D-Maine— voted against it.
Though they only represented a small percentage of Republicans in the chamber, their willingness to cross party lines on this issue gave McBath a measure of hope.
“We have the opportunity right now, as a nation, to fully do what is right. We have the opportunity right now to address, as it was expressed, the carnage of gun violence in America. This is the moment. We are facing the challenge of our lifetime,” she said. “We must do what is right. This is the challenge of our era.”
Natalie can be reached at email@example.com
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