AUSTIN (KXAN) — In the wake of the school shooting in Parkland, Florida that claimed 17 lives on Feb. 14, many are asking whether a judge should be able to temporarily take firearms from troubled people if friends and family are worried about them.
A “firearm restraining order” is a policy similar to restraining orders domestic violence victims get against their abusers.
However, advocates on both sides are squaring off over who has the responsibility to step in — friends and family or the court system?
Central Texas Gun Works owner Michael Cargill had a troubled friend he thought shouldn’t have a gun around him. He personally cleared the house of firearms until his friend was stable and says that responsibility lies with friends and family, not a judge.
“You see something, say something. You hear something, say something. That’s up to you,” said Cargill.
He says taking rights away based on suspicion but no action violates constitutional rights. “If they didn’t commit a crime, it’s not going to hold up in court,” said Cargill.
He believes it has no chance of becoming law anytime soon. “This is not going to happen in Texas. This is nothing more than what people see as gun confiscation.
Leslie Ervin is an advocate for the restraining order concept, after her troubled son killed her husband in 2013.
“Friends and family can’t do a whole lot if somebody is dead set on getting a firearm,” said Ervin. “This is somebody who was unstable. I loved my son, but I was also very hesitant to go and take away his guns myself.”
She tried to get the Austin Police Department to stop him from purchasing guns, but since he never committed a crime, he could legally buy one if the store owner would sell it.
“Horrified. I was absolutely horrified. At that moment I couldn’t think it was true,” said Ervin.
Ultimately, he used a knife on his father. Last year, a House committee on public safety considered the idea, HB 866, but never voted.
Ervin, a board member of Texas Gun Sense, is hopeful for more traction in the next legislative session. That organization reports that 63 percent of gun deaths in 2015 in Texas were suicides.
Four key gatekeepers — the chair and vice chair of the Senate State Affairs Committee and the House Homeland Security and Public Safety Committee — at the State Capitol did not respond to a request for comment for this story.