More than two decades of federal inaction on gun-control measures have understandably conditioned the public to expect little from Congress after mass shootings, no matter the death toll. But President Donald Trump’s endorsement yesterday of red-flag laws could generate momentum for legislation that has already won some bipartisan support on Capitol Hill.
“We must make sure that those judged to pose a grave risk to public safety do not have access to firearms, and that if they do, those firearms can be taken through rapid due process,” Trump said at the White House during a statement responding to the weekend massacres that killed at least 31 people in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio. “That is why I have called for red-flag laws, also known as extreme-risk protection orders.”
Laws allowing law enforcement or immediate family members to obtain a temporary court order to keep guns from individuals deemed to pose a danger to themselves or others have been enacted in 17 states and the District of Columbia; a dozen of those states, including five with Republican governors, have passed them in 2019 alone, largely in response to the school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, in which an expelled student, Nikolas Cruz, fatally shot 17 people and wounded 17 others. Investigations subsequently found that local authorities and the FBI had missed numerous warnings about Cruz, who was nonetheless able to legally obtain a gun.