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Reactions to the Red Flag Gun Bill

March 04, 2019 05:57 PM

(ABC 6 News) -- Gun control is a hot topic for Minnesota lawmakers this year, and the ‘Red Flag Bill’ in particular is sparking a lot of emotional reaction.

The bill, which was passed by a Minnesota House Committee last week, would allow law enforcement or family members to petition to take guns away from people deemed a risk to themselves or others.

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Political Director of the Minnesota Gun Owners Caucus, Rob Doar, worries this law would not provide a fair process for gun owners.

"I think every person has the right to face their accuser, to have their charge brought against them and to be able to provide a defense prior to having their property seized," said Doar.

Olmsted County Attorney Mark Ostrem said the exact process of how these firearms would be seized is still unclear.

"Usually this is going to be a kind of an emergent type of situation," Ostrem said. "So we are going to want to get in court rather quickly. I think anyone that is involved in our court system understands that you don't get into court rather quickly. So again some of the finer details probably still need to ironed out on that process."

But the fact that law enforcement will have new tools to take guns from someone unsafe is what makes Alisha Eiken support the bill. She is with the Rochester Chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America.

"I really became motivated to fight gun violence after the Parkland shooting," she said. "At the time, I had a 3-year-old and a kindergartner. I was sitting there thinking, 'this is my kindergartner's life now. He is going to be sitting there doing active shooter drills.' I can't believe this is the world we are raising our kids in. So yes, I do worry about mass shootings. I also worry about family members and friends who might be going through a crisis. We really are limited in the options we have to help these people."

In 2017, firearms accounted for more than 50 percent of all suicide deaths, according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

However, Doar said the “72 Hour Hold” in Minnesota already is a good prevention option.

In Minnesota, someone can be held in a treatment facility for up to 72 hours if a peace officer or health official has good reason to believe they have mental illness and will harm themselves or others.

"Instead of going in and taking the firearms and leaving them with a myriad of things that they could hurt themselves with, or hurt someone else with, the 72-hour hold actually addresses the person in crisis,” said Doar.

While Doar hopes to see the Red Flag bill go away, Eiken hopes it’s the start of a new chapter. 

"I think they're really starting to listen to their voters and I hope we will see some momentum moving forward,” she said.

The bill was approved by a House committee; it will likely face opposition in the Republican-controlled Senate.

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Talia Milavetz

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