GREEN BAY, Wis. (WFRV)- As the investigations into a number of deadly mass shootings that have happened across the country, there are new conversations surrounding the “Red Flag Laws” which have been enacted in 17 states and the District of Columbia. “The reason they call it a red flag law is because there are some warning signs that are very clear to people who know what they’re looking at,” said Michael P. Lawlor of the University of New Haven.
There are some common elements of the Red Flag Law that can be found in each of the 17 states and D.C. Only certain individuals are allowed to petition the court for an order to restrict someone from possessing firearms. In some states, that selected individual would be a law enforcement officer. A preliminary order would go into effect between two and twenty-one days without notice. Proof is needed of significant risk or danger. Once in place, the individual would have to surrender their firearm and ammunition to police. The final order would be in effect for one year and in most states that can be renewed if deemed necessary.
Opponents of the law say there are constitutional concerns surrounding amendments like the right to own a firearm and the right to due process. “There is a culture in this state of Wisconsin, that is oriented to protecting gun rights, which are obviously protected under the constitution,” said Jerry Podair, Political Science Professor at Lawrence University. Podair says there is a sense that even with reasonable restrictions on gun use, it could be viewed as a slippery slope. “If there were smaller changes in reform, that might work better than a blanket huge sweep,” said Podair.
The Biden administration is reportedly working on sweeping gun reform in light of the shootings that have occurred. In 2019, Governor Tony Evers tried unsuccessfully to bring the Red Flag law to the state. It is unclear at this time if he will reintroduce the law in the future.