Editorial: Red flag gun bill has merit

The Kansas Legislature should strongly consider a proposed law to allow confiscation of weapons.

Kansas lawmakers should give serious consideration to a so-called red flag bill that would provide for the removal of guns from people suffering from serious mental or behavioral issues.

Sen. Barbara Bollier, R-Mission Hills, has both introduced a bill that would allow family members or law enforcement officials to petition a court to order guns confiscated from people if there is reason to believe they pose a danger to themselves or others.

Five states currently have such laws in place, and Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo, a Democrat, signed an executive order giving law enforcement the authority to take guns away from people who are deemed to be a danger to themselves and others.

Bollier introduced the bill earlier in the session, but that bill died after the “turnaround” deadline for bills to passed on Feb. 22. But it has since been reintroduced as Senate Bill 431, and Bollier said she has been assured by Republican leaders that it will at least get a committee hearing.

State Rep. Jim Ward, D-Topeka, has similar legislation pending in the House.

Gun safety issues have been at the forefront since the Feb. 14 mass shooting at a high school in Parkland, Fla., left 17 students and faculty members dead.

“It is a great start,” Bollier said of her bill, “not because of the Parkland shooting, but because of suicide and gun violence, especially domestic violence issues.”

When it comes to gun legislation, there is a broad array of steps being discussed at the state and federal level including enhancing background checks, raising the minimum age to purchase assault-style rifles to 21, banning bump stocks that turn semi-automatic weapons into fully automatic firearms and even reconsidering the assault weapons ban that was in place from 1995 to 2004.

Kansas has shown little to no interest in such legislation. If anything, Kansas lawmakers have moved more in the direction of protecting gun rights, having already passed House Bill 2042, a “reciprocity” bill that allows people with valid concealed carry permits from other states to carry concealed firearms in Kansas, including an amendment lowering the minimum age for carrying concealed firearms to 18 instead of 21.

There are those who argue Bollier’s bill could violate constitutional rights, but the court hearing provides the individual with due process before guns are confiscated. If the state can terminate parental rights in order to protect children, then surely the state can implement a process to terminate gun ownership rights, at least temporarily.

Bollier’s red flag bill could prevent future deaths in Kansas. Legislators should seriously consider approving it.