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Red Flag Laws - Good or Bad? And is Illinois Next?

Updated: Feb 23, 2018

What is a “RED FLAG” law?

You as a gun owner need to be informed, especially as a gun owner in the State of Illinois, which is one of many states who introduced such legislation.

A “Red Flag law” is also known as a “Lethal Violence Order of Protection,” “Gun Violence Restraining Order,” or "Extreme Risk Protection Order." Whatever the name, the law, which currently five states enforce, is a law where a petitioner can swear before a judge to have firearms removed from someone who is a threat to oneself or another. If appropriately applied, pro-Red Flag law advocates say these laws can remove firearms before an individual can use them to either commit suicide or worse take the lives of others in an active shooter, mass casualty, incident

According to Everytown, a study in 2017 of the Connecticut "Red Flag" law, averted an estimated 72 or more suicides. Everytown also indicated in an article that the most recent Parkland, Florida mass shooting may have been prevented if Florida had such laws.

However, if the “Red Flag” law is not properly applied, this red flag law can be devastating. Unfortunately, there are those who use current laws as retribution. Especially when used in divorces, break-ups, custody disputes or any other type of revenge.

Five states have such “Red Flag law” including, California, Connecticut, Indiana, Oregon and Washington, according to Everytown Research, 18 states including D.C. have introduced legislation. This includes our own state, Illinois. Illinois has introduced a bill in both the house and senate addressing such laws: House Bill 2354 - Lethal Violence Order of Protection and Senate Bill 1291 – Lethal Violence Order of Protection. A little about the bills:

According to SB 1291:

  • Only a family member or law enforcement may petition.

  • The bill defines "family member of the respondent” (which may be a roommate), "lethal violence order of protection," "petitioner," and "respondent."

  • Petition will allege the respondent poses a danger of causing injury to oneself, or another by, owning, purchasing, possessing, or receiving a firearm.

  • Petitioner may request an emergency lethal violence order of protection (OP) or an ex parte order (an order without knowledge of respondent) along with one-year orders.

  • If ex parte is issued full hearing will be scheduled within 14 days.

  • Petition shall describe type/location of firearm(s) owned by respondent as believed by petitioner.

  • The bill establishes some court considerations to assist in determining if they will issue the order.

  • During hearing petitioner has burden of proof.

  • If order is issued, respondent is entitled to one hearing during the duration of the order.

  • In this hearing respondent has burden of proof.

  • If court issues the order, respondent:

  • Cannot possess, purchase, or accept firearms during duration.

  • Must turn over any of their firearm(s), FOID Card, or CCL to local law enforcement.

  • Must establish factors for renewing and terminating, lethal violence (OP)

  • Petitioner may request extension or renewal 3 months prior to expiration.

  • Sheriff will serve the order to the respondent.

HB2354 is similar to its Senate bill counterpart.

So, if all is on the uppity up, this bill can potentially save the life of the “respondent” or if s/he shows severe signs of mental issues, including going on a terrible rampage, this may be a prevention method. However, as I stated earlier this can also be abused as so many laws are. I have seen examples of abuse of certain laws, especially in ugly divorces or custody disputes. These abuses are not only a disgusting behavior but they demean true victims of certain laws.

To be fair, both HB2354 and SB1291 have a provision stating the petitioner may be charged criminally if they provide false information. The section states the petitioner may be charged with a class “A” misdemeanor for providing a false affidavit. Which, according to Illinois law, a class “A” misdemeanor is UP TO one year of incarceration, or possibly probation, not to exceed two years and/or a possible fine not to exceed $2500.00 (ILCS 730 5/-4.5-5). If these bills are to be taken seriously, if at all, then the petitioner should risk more than a class “A” misdemeanor, they should be putting up their livelihood, risk prison time for attempting to destroy another livelihood. Lying should be considered a felony.

Regardless what you believe about “Red Flag Laws,” be informed. You can find a lot of good information on current Illinois bills regarding guns on the Illinois State Rifle Association website. However, don’t vote or take a certain position without research, just because “everyone else is doing it.” Do a little research into the subject yourself and base your beliefs on your research. Once you take a stance, find, write, call, email your congressman to ensure they are representing you properly.

I too believe things need to change to stop active killer incidents, for example, parents need to be more involved and honest with themselves regarding their children. The F.B.I., which I understand can be busy at times, need to do thorough investigations when presented evidence of potential threats. Current gun laws need to be strictly enforced. The mental health issues need to be addressed. And we as responsible gun owners need to stay informed.

As always Stay Safe, Stay Armed and Continue to Train.

Halo Defense Training & Tactics and their instructors are constantly monitoring firearms news to keep current on federal legislation, state legislation and current firearms and concealed carry news. This is another reason Halo Defense Training & Tactics stands out from other firearms training companies and Halo should be your choice for your firearms needs. Sign up today for Illinois Concealed Carry Course or our other firearms courses where we are always updating to keep current on the laws, legislation and news.

Update February 23, 2018: SB1291 was reassigned to Judiciary, January 30, 2018; SB0559 - Lethal Violence OP (same language) was placed on calendar for 3rd reading for February 27, 2018. Those in Illinois sign those witness slips if you oppose it.

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