In The News
Huizenga Discusses Gun Violence, Potential Paths Forward with the Holland Sentinel
Washington, August 9, 2019
Tags: Homeland Security
Despite outcries for stricter gun-control laws after mass shooting events, Congress has been unable to debate or enact substantial gun-control legislation — largely because of resistance from Republicans.
But a bipartisan proposal by Sens. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., is gaining momentum following weekend mass shootings in Texas and Ohio that left 31 people dead. The emerging plan would create a federal grant program to encourage states to adopt “red flag” laws to take guns away from people believed to be dangerous to themselves or others.
In general, red flag or “extreme risk protection order” laws allow courts to issue temporary orders barring someone from possessing guns based on some showing of imminent danger or a risk of misuse.
State laws vary, but most stipulate that only specific people — usually family or household members — may petition a court for an extreme risk protection order. In some cases, a preliminary order may be granted without prior notice to the person who is the subject of the order.
The bill is similar to the Jake Laird of Act of 2019, which was introduced in the House of Representatives in May. Rep. Fred Upton, R-St. Joseph, co-sponsored the act, which is still in committee in the House. Upton represents Michigan’s Sixth Congressional District.
A similar bill never came up for a vote in the GOP-controlled Senate last year, but both parties express hope that this year will be different. President Donald Trump has signaled support for the plan.
Red flag laws currently exist in 17 states and Washington, D.C.
In February, the House of Representatives passed the Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2019. Upton was among the co-sponsors of that bill as well. Upton then said through a spokesperson that the act would make communities safer while still complying with the Second Amendment.
“Sadly, we cannot prevent every act of violence, but certainly we can prevent many more,” Upton said. “There are many gun laws already on the books that need to be much better enforced. I have also supported fixing our badly broken mental health system and getting resources to state and local authorities to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous individuals.”
Upton’s team did not provide comment on the current legislation being discussed in the Senate, but he tweeted on Sunday that “common sense” red flag laws were needed.
The bill passed the House with a 240-199 vote. Rep. Bill Huizenga, R-Zeeland, voted “no,” with all but eight other House Republicans. Despite its passing in February, the bill has yet to be voted on in the Senate. Huizenga represents Michigan’s Second Congressional District.
Huizenga, through a spokesperson, told The Sentinel that Congress should prioritize the underlying causes that lead mass shooters to commit acts of terrorism.
“We need to find out how and why individuals in our society are being radicalized,” Huizenga said. Congress needs to take a substantive approach to examine the underlying causes of gun violence. I believe Congress should hold hearings to better understand the mental health crisis in our nation, the impact social media plays in harnessing and promoting hatred, and ways to continue to enhance school safety.”
Huizenga added that any prospective legislation that restricts individuals from obtaining guns has to remain compliant with the Second Amendment.
“In the last Congress, I voted to strengthen background checks and improve school safety,” he said. “This year, I have cosponsored legislation to improve the background check system even further as well as legislation designed to help schools provide a safer and more secure learning environment.
“While the conversation continues to evolve surrounding ‘red flag’ legislation, a balance must be struck that respects due process and the constitutional rights of all Americans while also allowing family and law enforcement to intervene if a person is exhibiting erratic behavior stemming from mental crisis.”