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'Red Flag' bill introduced in ND Legislature

Dave Thompson
Prairie Public

A coalition of state lawmakers, police and school officials is advocating for a bill to temporarily keep guns out of the hands of dangerous individuals.

The bill, dubbed the "Red Flag" bill, would establish “Public Safety Protection Orders.” It would be a process where law enforcement officers or family members could petition the court to temporarily prohibit someone deemed to be a danger to themselves or others from possessing a firearm.

The bill’s main sponsor – Rep. Karla Rose Hanson (D-Fargo) – told reporters this will be an effective tool to prevent suicide.

"Because a suicidal person may have to wait to get their initial behavioral health services, and because it often takes time for both therapy and medication to take effect, a public safety protection order can put some time and distance between that person and lethal means while they get stable," Hanson said. "This is just one tool in the toolbox to address our behavioral health crisis in North Dakota."

Credit Dave Thompson / Prairie Public
West Fargo Police Chief Heith Janke at the Capitol news conference on the "red flag" bill.

West Fargo Police Chief Heith Janke told reporters not only does it help prevent suicides, it will help prevent any potential homicidal activity, such as school shootings.

"To accomplish this, we need to provide the right tools to law enforcement and family members to be proactive in preventing these deaths," Janke said. "This bill provides an additional tool to hopefully save more lives and prevent more statistics from being made."

The bill faces opposition from some gun rights advocates, such as the NRA, who say the “red flag” bill is just an excuse to confiscate guns.

The bill has not yet been scheduled for a hearing.

(KFGO's Jim Monk provided the comment from the NRA.)

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