The US House on Thursday approved a “red-flag” bill that would allow families, police and others to ask federal courts to order the removal of firearms from people at high risk of harm to themselves or others. .
It is the Democratic-controlled chamber’s latest response to the US mass shootings and looks very unlikely to be passed in the Senate.
Nineteen states and the District of Columbia currently have such “red-flag” laws. Under the House bill, a judge can issue an order to temporarily remove and store firearms until a hearing is held two weeks later to determine whether the firearms should be returned or for a specific period. should be kept for. The bill passed on a mostly party-line vote of 224–202.
“We know painfully that we can’t do enough to save every life, and there is no one answer that can solve this problem,” said Representative Jerrold Nadler, the Democratic chairman of the House Judiciary Committee. “But we know that taking guns out of the hands of people who pose a danger to themselves or others will save countless lives.”
The vote came after an emotional week that saw congressional testimony from victims of the recent mass shootings in Uvalde, Texas and Buffalo, New York, and from a planned march Saturday in Washington by groups advocating for strong gun control. came first.
On Wednesday, the House passed a comprehensive gun control bill that would raise the age limit for purchasing semi-automatic rifles and prohibit the sale of ammunition magazines with a capacity of more than 15 rounds. This, too, has virtually no chance in the Senate.
House Republicans criticized the “red-flag” bill giving the federal government the ability to take the guns of a law-abiding person without the person previously having the ability to fight.
“It would allow courts to take guns from people without notice and defend themselves in court without the right to appear at hearings,” said Louisiana Republican Representative Mike Johnson.
The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the bill will lead to about 10,000 emergency petitions filed annually in the courts.
The bill would also create a grant program at the US Department of Justice to encourage states to adopt “red-flag” laws and support the 19 states that have enacted them.
Five Republican lawmakers voted for the bill: Representative Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania, Anthony Gonzalez of Ohio, Chris Jacobs of New York, Adam Kizinger of Illinois and Fred Upton of Michigan. Only Fitzpatrick is seeking re-election. Representative Jared Golden of Maine was the only Democrat to vote.
The major sponsors of the bill were Democratic Representatives Salud Carbajal of California and Lucy McBath of Georgia, whose son Jordan Davis was killed in 2012 at a Jacksonville, Florida, gas station by a white man outraged by the loud music of a black teenager. His friends were playing in his car.
President Joe Biden strongly supports the bill. However, the legislation is unlikely to proceed in the Senate, where at least 10 Republican senators would be required.
Instead, senators are focusing on incremental policy changes through a system that would send money and other incentives to states to increase safety on school campuses, provide more mental health services to young people and possibly allow states to build their own Red-flags will encourage the laws to go ahead.
Texas Senator John Cornyn, who is leading the negotiations on the Republican side, said a focused background check system, known as NICS, covers the criminal records of young buyers before the age of 18.
He expressed optimism that the senators would be able to reach an agreement.