Texas leaders weigh when to take guns from dangerous people

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AUSTIN (Nexstar) — Texas lawmakers began to hear input on potential “red flag” legislation that would allow for temporary removal of weapons through a court order.

Creating independent red flag laws in Texas would allow for law enforcement, a family member, a school employee, or a district attorney to file a petition seeking removal of firearms from a “potentially dangerous person.” Lawmakers made clear that any changes would preserve the “fundamental rights of the Second Amendment” and ensure due process.

This is part of Gov. Greg Abbott’s school safety plan, which he unveiled at the end of May. House Speaker Joe Straus and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick both charged members of their chambers to address issues Abbott brought up in his 43-page document.

Travis County probate Judge Guy Herman said red flag warnings could prevent future deadly attacks like the one at Santa Fe High School in May.

“I don’t want to see another Santa Fe happen again,” Herman said. “There was info out that if it had been given to the right persons, maybe we could have stopped that.”

Founder of Open Carry Texas, C.J. Grisham, said he was “100 percent opposed” to red flag legislation.

“A lot of it is built off of the already flawed and failed restraining order process,” Grisham continued. “I think if you’ve got a dangerous person, taking their guns is not the issue, taking them off the streets is the issue.”

Grisham and a handful of others openly carried their handguns to Monday’s meeting, contrasting with a sea of Mom’s Demand Action shirts, worn by advocates against gun violence.

“You never get good policy when you base it off of emotion,” Grisham said. “If somebody feels intimidated, I’m sorry, but liberty is not predicated on someone’s feelings, so suck it up buttercup.”

Merily Keller, co-founder of the Texas Suicide Prevention Council, said she believes the state can arrive at a solution “to protect second amendment rights in a way to have a red flag law that would secure firearms temporarily for those at risk.”

“Those firearms need to be secured now — don’t wait for the legislature to take action,” Keller said, adding that Texans “need to take action, it’s the only way we can save lives.”

Keller believes the path to a safer Texas resides in suicide prevention, while former state lawmaker and former land commissioner Jerry Patterson said education would stop irresponsible gun ownership.

“We need to do something that actually works,” Patterson said emphatically. “The problem I see is that the stuff that become the clichés and the bumper stickers don’t make a damn bit of difference.”

To watch the committee meeting, click here.

L-R: Texas state reps. Cole Hefner (R-Mt. Pleasant), Mike Lang (R-Granbury), Matt Krause (R-Fort Worth), and Todd Hunter (R-Corpus Christi), at a House committee meeting on June 25, 2018. (Nexstar Photo/Wes Rapaport)
A man openly carries a handgun at a Texas House committee meeting focusing on possible "red flag laws" that would allow for a temporary removal of guns from potentially dangerous people. June 25, 2018. (Nexstar Photo/Wes Rapaport)

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