Texas Senate Panel Holds Hearing on Red Flag Laws

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Gov. Greg Abbott's proposed "red flag" law in Texas was met with resistance during a special state senate committee hearing Tuesday in Austin.

After the Santa Fe High School shooing, Gov. Abbott suggested allowing judges to temporarily remove guns from those deemed a danger to themselves or others as part of his 40-point school safety plan.

“Only one-third of the people who have committed mass shootings in the U.S. since 1900 have sought or received mental health care prior to their attacks,” argued firearms attorney Gary Wells. “Consequently any form of detention protection restraining orders will not stop school or other mass shootings.”

Gun rights advocates also told the Senate Select Committee on Violence in Schools and School Security that a red flag law would duplicate existing Texas laws and improperly limit the constitutional right to bear arms.

“It's unnecessary because current laws are sufficient to meet the stated goal. Other measures such as school hardening and arming teachers are more effective. It's impractical because how do you define who's dangerous? How long is temporary?” asked Fort Bend County resident Anthony Duke.

Advocates of extreme-risk protection orders say they have helped other states prevent gun violence, particularly suicides, through checks and balances while also protecting individual rights.

We believe the state's current protective order laws are insufficient to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people. We need a remaking of protective order laws beyond domestic violence cases to reduce mass shootings,” said Daniella Salazar, a University of Texas law student and intern with Child Defense Fund of Texas.

The Legislature convenes in January. The Senate is expected to make its recommendations the first week of August.

However, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick released a statement effectively saying a red flag law is dead on arrival.

I have never supported these policies, nor has the majority of the Texas Senate. A bill offered last session garnered little support,” Patrick said. “Gov. Greg Abbott formally asked the Legislature to consider ‘red-flag’ laws in May, so I added them to the charges I gave to the select committee. However, Gov. Abbott has since said he doesn’t advocate red-flag laws.”

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