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Gun Policy

Red Flag Laws: Where the Bills Stand in Each State

Since the Parkland shooting, eight states have enacted legislation that allows law enforcement to remove guns from individuals deemed a risk to themselves or others.

Following the Parkland school shooting, state lawmakers across the nation developed a newfound interest in a previously little-known means for separating volatile people from deadly weapons.

Red flag laws – also known as Extreme Risk Protection Orders (ERPOs) or Gun Violence Restraining Orders (GVROs) – enable law enforcement, and sometimes family members and other concerned parties, to petition a judge to remove guns from individuals who pose a threat to themselves or others.

Since the February mass shooting in Florida, red flag laws have engendered support from lawmakers of both major political parties and groups on both sides of the gun-policy divide. Their public supporters include the National Rifle Association — although the group’s backing comes with extensive caveats. At the state level, NRA lobbyists and affiliates have argued that red flag proposals put unfair focus on firearms and strip the subjects of gun-removal orders of due process rights.

Pushback from the NRA has slowed the advance of red flag laws in several state capitols, but the sudden enthusiasm for the measures remains striking. Going into 2018, just five states had versions of red flag laws; as of May, nearly as many states had passed new ones. Proposals are still under consideration in a dozen.

Please scroll on to see the status of red flag laws in your state. We’ll be updating this tracker as the legislative calendar progresses.

Status of State ‘Red Flag’ Laws

Source: State legislatures. Interactive: Daniel Nass.

 

Passed

Delaware

Bill: HB222
Introduced: June 13, 2017
Status: Signed into law on June 27

Delaware’s law allows family members and law enforcement to file for lethal violence protection orders if they can present clear and convincing evidence that a person is at risk for shooting themselves or others.  LVPOs also authorize law enforcement to search for and seize firearms if the filer can accurately describe the firearms and possible locations. This law follows the April signing of the Beau Biden Gun Violence Prevention Act, which allows police officers to remove firearms from an individual only after a mental health professional has deemed the person a danger to themselves or others. (As The Trace has reported, mental illness, by itself, is not a predictor of violent behavior.)

Florida

Bill: CS/SB 7026
Introduced: February 21
Status: Signed into law on March 9

Florida’s red flag provision came bundled in the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act, which passed with the support of 67 NRA A-rated legislators. In the weeks following the bill’s passage, Florida judges have issued numerous risk-protection orders, including one against Zachary Cruz, the brother of the Parkland gunman.

Illinois

Bill: HB2354
Introduced: January 26, 2017
Status: Signed into law on July 16

The proposal passed both state chambers with veto-proof majorities with one day remaining in the session. The bill sat on Republican Governor Bruce Rauner’s desk for over six weeks before being signed into law.

Maryland

Bill: HB1302
Introduced: February 9
Status: Signed into law on April 9

The passage of Maryland’s red flag bill came down to the wire. After debating amendments proposed by the Senate, the House of Delegates sent the final legislation to Governor Larry Hogan’s desk with less than two hours remaining in the Legislature’s 2018 session. “I firmly believe that the bill will save lives, and I’m pleased that there was a general consensus on the bill and the legislative process to get it through,” Delegate Geraldine Valentino-Smith, the bill’s chief sponsor, told The Trace in April.

Massachusetts

Bill: HB4670
Introduced: first version on January 23, 2017
Status: Signed into law on July 3
Session ends: December 31

Republican Governor Charlie Baker  was moved to support the bill after endorsement from the state’s police chiefs. The Massachusetts Chiefs of Police Association expressed its support for the proposal near the end of April. The association president, Chief Steven Wojnar, told the State House News Service that the measure could be a valuable tool for family and law officers to protect people in crisis, as well as those around them. Existing state law allows police officers to revoke the permits that Massachusetts requires for gun ownership, but makes no provision for confiscating guns in a disqualified person’s possession.

New Jersey

Bill: A1217
Introduced: January 1
Status: Signed into law on June 13

The bill passed the both chambers in early June with bipartisan support, and was signed by Democratic Governor Philip Murphy within a week. Murphy also signed A1181, a separate measure that requires law enforcement to confiscate a person’s guns if a mental health professional has determined the person may harm themselves or others.

Rhode Island

Bill: H7688
Introduced: February 23
Status: Signed into law on June 1

Governor Gina Raimondo signaled her support for risk-protection legislation with an executive order, prior to the bill passing the state’s General Assembly. The Rhode Island chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union has described the bill as “well-intentioned,” but opposes it for its broad scope and “lenient standards for both applying for and granting” protective orders.

Vermont

Bill: SB221
Introduced: March 30
Status: Signed into law on April 11

After three months of debate, Vermont’s bill cleared both chambers without a single vote against it. Of all the red flag laws that state legislatures have taken up this year, Vermont’s is one of the narrowest: Only a State’s Attorney or the Office of the Attorney General can request that a court issue a risk protection order.

Under consideration

Michigan

Bill: HB4707
Introduced: June 7, 2017
Status: In committee
Session ends: December 31

Michigan’s bill is technically still active, but it has not seen any movement since its introduction. Following the Parkland shooting, Republican Governor Rick Snyder said he would formulate an action plan to prevent mass shootings, and that it might incorporate a red flag measure. HB4707, introduced last summer, remains moribund despite Snyder’s avowal. The Detroit News reports that red flag legislation faces opposition in Michigan from Republican leadership, who cite due process concerns and are more focused on school safety and mental health reforms.

Ohio

Bill: HB585
Introduced: April 5
Status: In committee
Session ends: December 31

Ohio’s red flag proposal was introduced by Republican Representative Michael Henne and is rolled in with several gun reforms put forward by an advisory panel convened by GOP Governor John Kasich after the Las Vegas shooting last fall. Henne has an A rating with the NRA, but his bill is likely to receive opposition from the GOP-dominated House. “I’ve vetted this with my friends who are strong gun-rights, Second Amendment people and they don’t have any problem with these issues,” said Henne, as quoted in the Associated Press. “No one should have any objections to this. This is just sensible stuff.”

Failed

Alabama

Bill: HB478
Introduced: March 1
Status: Did not advance to floor vote
Session ended: March 29

The bill stood little chance with Republicans holding overwhelming majorities in both chambers. No GOP members showed up to a committee hearing to consider the proposal, stalling the bill for lack of a quorum.

Alaska

Bill: HB75
Introduced: January 23, 2017
Status: Did not advance to floor vote
Session ended: April 15

On the shelf for nearly a year, the legislation gained bipartisan support shortly after the shooting in Parkland. Diana Rhoades, an aide to the bill’s sponsor, Representative Geran Tarr, told The Trace in an email that the NRA had met with her office to say it would not oppose the bill, but came out against the proposal during the final days of the session. An NRA spokesman told a local ABC affiliate that the bill lacked due process safeguards.

Arizona

Bill: SB1347
Introduced: January 24
Status: Did not advance to floor vote
Session ended: March 29

The sponsor of Arizona’s red flag proposal said she knew it was dead before the session ended. “It does not have bipartisan support,” wrote State Senator Katie Hobbs, a Democrat, in a March email to The Trace. “I presented an opportunity for Republicans to help revive it with a discharge petition and none of them would support it.” Democratic Representative Randall Friese, who sponsored identical legislation in the House, said in a phone interview: “The NRA doesn’t have to take a strong public stance on bills like this. They know they likely won’t move forward anyway.”

Colorado

Bill: HB18-1436
Introduced: April 30
Status: Voted down in committee

The bill was defeated in the State, Veterans, and Military Affairs Committee by a party-line vote on May 8, the penultimate day of the legislative session. Police and prosecutors supported the proposal, but it faced opposition from Republican lawmakers. The bill was named the Deputy Zackari Parrish III Violence Prevention Act, in honor of a deputy fatally shot by a man known to be mentally ill. Despite making threats against his university professors and the local police, the killer was allowed keep his firearms.

Hawaii

Bill: HB2024
Introduced: January 19
Status: Did not advance to floor vote
Session ended: May 3

In comments filed at a public hearing on February 1, Stacey Moniz, executive director of the Hawaii State Coalition Against Domestic Violence, argued for the bill by writing that there are too many instances of “horrific violence perpetrated by individuals who should never have had access to firearms.” An NRA lobbyist, Daniel Reid, submitted an opposition memo stating that “no law can give police, or even family members, increased insight into human behavior and motivation.” A day later, the House Judiciary Committee recommended that the measure be deferred.

Iowa

Bill: HF2180
Introduced: February 1
Status: Did not advance to floor vote
Session ended: April 17

The Iowa proposal was “dead on the vine,” said sponsor Bruce Hunter, a House Democrat, in a March interview with The Trace. The bill never received a hearing; when Hunter tried to add it as an amendment to other bills, it was ruled not germane. Republicans hold a majority in the House, and none expressed their support for the bill, he said. Before the Parkland shooting, Hunter said he received NRA emails saying the group opposed the bill.

Kansas

Bill: HB2769
Introduced: March 6
Status: Did not advance to floor vote
Session ended: April 7

State Senator Barbara Bollier told The Trace in March that she believes that local affiliates of the NRA were responsible for her bill’s demise. The legislation was referred to the Committee on Taxation shortly after being introduced and did not make it out of that committee before the legislative session ended. The Kansas State Rifle Association singled out Bollier for being anti-gun in its email newsletter when she attended the March for Our Lives in Washington, D.C., in March. “Even though the national NRA is standing in support of red flag bills, the Kansas Rifle Association is not,” she said.

Kentucky

Bill: HB544
Introduced: February 27
Status: Did not advance to floor vote
Session ended: April 13

The Kentucky proposal was one of the broader risk-protection bills filed in state legislatures this year. The bill would have allowed any person — not just family or law enforcement — to petition a judge to issue a risk-protection order. However, it faced an uphill battle in the Republican-dominated Kentucky Legislature, and ultimately did not receive a vote.

Louisiana

Bill: HB448
Introduced: March 1
Status: Did not advance to floor vote
Session ended: June 4

Despite imposing one of the higher standards for securing a protection order — petitions can only be filed by a district attorney or two peace officers — the proposal did not gain much traction in the Republican-held House. The bill was deferred by the Committee on Administration of Criminal Justice in early April. The day before the committee meeting, the NRA sent out a message opposing the proposal. The gun group professed that, although it wants to keep firearms out of dangerous hands, “this legislation lacks due process protections as well as proper procedures for when an order is expired or terminated.”

Maine

Bill: LD1884
Introduced: March 27
Status: Did not advance to floor vote
Session ended: April 18

The proposal passed the House Judiciary Committee, but did not reach a consensus vote before the session ended. The bill has been marked to possibly pass with future amendments introduced in the next legislative session. John Hohenwarter, a lobbyist for the NRA, openly opposed the bill this spring. In a memorandum of opposition to lawmakers, Hohenwarter criticized the legislation for singling out guns — and excluding other weapons — and said a comprehensive red flag policy would mandate a mental health evaluation following a gun seizure. “I respectfully ask,” he wrote, “that you oppose this misguided legislation and consider other alternatives for protecting the public from ‘high risk’ individuals.”

Minnesota

Bill: HF4360
Introduced: April 12
Status: Did not advance to floor vote
Session ends: May 21

Despite widespread public support in Minnesota for stronger gun laws, the state Legislature advanced zero firearm-related bills this session. Republicans have majorities in both the House and Senate, and experts say members of the governing party are unwilling to break ranks during an election year.

Missouri

Bill: SB1101
Introduced: March 1
Status: Did not advance to floor vote
Session ends: May 12

Missouri’s red flag law was a part of a broader bill that would have increased penalties for domestic abusers who attempted to purchase guns and criminalized bump stock ownership. The legislation had its second read near the end of March, but faced a tough road to passage: More than two-thirds of the seats in the House and Senate are Republican.

New York

Bill: A11148
Introduced: January 9
Status: Did not pass both chambers
Session ended: June 20

The fate of New York’s red flag bill rested on the divided state Senate, which has a slim Republican majority. The upper chamber also defeated a similar proposal last session. Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo had been pushing for this bill to pass since it was introduced in early June.

North Carolina

Bill: HB723
Introduced: April 10
Status: Did not advance to floor vote
Session ends: July 4

In addition to its red flag provision, this bill included a number of gun reforms, including a repeal of “Stand Your Ground” legislation and a reporting requirement for lost and stolen guns. The breadth of the legislation hurt its chances with Republicans in who hold a considerable majority in the House and a supermajority in the Senate. The NRA has described the package as “a veritable list of assaults on our Right to Keep and Bear Arms.” During a February press conference, a spokesman for Democratic Governor Roy Cooper said Cooper would support a red flag law.

Pennsylvania

Bill: HB2227
Introduced: April 16
Status: Did not advance to floor vote
Session ends: November 30

The bill’s sponsor is Republican Representative Todd Stephens, who has previously put forward legislation to increase penalties against straw purchasers. It is likely to see opposition in the Republican-majority House and two-thirds-majority Senate. On April 9, the Republican chairman of the Judiciary Committee, Ronald Marsico, who has an A+ rating with the NRA, held the first of a series of public hearings to address firearm violence and public safety. During the hearing, Stephens addressed a common refrain from the NRA: that people should be legally committed to a mental institution before their firearms are taken away. ”This would allow for family to get help for a loved one,” he said, “without the stigma or heavy-duty impact of involuntary committing them.”

Tennessee

Bill: HB961
Introduced: February 9, 2017
Status: Did not advance to floor vote
Session ended: April 27

Tennessee’s bill faced steep odds in a state Legislature where Republicans control more than 70 percent of both chambers. After sitting idle for almost a year, the proposal passed back and forth between the Senate’s General Subcommittee and Judiciary Committee with little debate. The bill was finally taken “off notice” on April 3. “The ones that are ‘off notice’ are gone, and I can’t imagine them coming back this year,” Chairman Mike Carter said at the time. Tennessee’s legislative session ended three weeks later.

Utah

Bill: HB483
Introduced: March 1
Status: Did not advance to floor vote
Session ended: March 8

Utah’s bill made it out of the House Judiciary Committee four days after being introduced, but did not come up for a floor vote before the legislative session ended. In a public hearing on the bill, Brian Judy, an NRA lobbyist, sought to sew doubts about the measure. “It’s not just a gun issue, it’s a mental health issue,” he said. “You have to get at the underlying cause of the dangerousness, and that is the individual.” Kathleen Kaufman of the Utah Nurses’ Association spoke in favor of the bill, to no avail. “We need a first step somewhere,” she said. “Yes, mental health is a problem, but we don’t have the resources in place to give enough to mental health.”

States with red flag laws prior to 2018

California, Connecticut, Indiana, Oregon, and Washington all have versions of a red flag law. For more on the history of the policies, read The Trace’s explainer.

This article will be updated as states close their sessions and the outcomes for remaining red flag bills become known.