Are ‘Red-Flag’ Laws a Rare Agreement on Gun Control?

A Republican lawmaker in Pennsylvania wants to make his state the second with a GOP-controlled legislature to pass a “red flag” law that allows seizure of weapons from people deemed dangerous. Rep. Todd Stephens said he was prompted to look into the idea by a constituent who is a lifetime member of the National Rifle Association, the Wall Street Journal reports. Fifteen states have red-flag laws, including pro-gun strongholds like Vermont and Florida. Ten passed their laws since the 2018 Parkland, Fl., high school massacre in which the shooter previously said he intended to kill people. A bill introduced in Congress last month with bipartisan support would give grants for police training to states with red-flag laws.

A recent poll by the University of Texas and the Texas Tribune found that 60 percent of Republicans and 88 percent of Democrats in Texas favor such regulations. Anthony Spangler, the constituent who contacted Stephens, said he had never supported a gun-control measure. “I don’t think the common person goes and decides they’re going to shoot someone,” said Spangler, a suburban Philadelphia financial planner. “If we can try to focus on those people that do those things or might do things, I think that protects my rights and others’ rights to own firearms.” There hasn’t been a similar wave of gun-control measures since the 1990s, when states passed laws to keep guns away from those under domestic-violence restraining orders. A majority of states now have such laws. “It’s surprising that there is any point of agreement in the gun debate,” said Adam Winkler, a law professor at the University of California, Los Angeles who wrote a history of gun laws. “Over the last 20 years or so, we’ve seen gun issues become such a stark partisan divide.”

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