(LITTLE ROCK) Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson’s list of legislative agenda items released on Wednesday, does not include the temporary seizure of firearms from dangerous people.
The list of agenda items are for a three year period; but, the Governor is not discounting the idea entirely. Many Republican leaders have backed similar legislation recently; but, Hutchinson hasn’t found a plan that he can back. Thus, not moving forward with that idea.
Red flag laws have been implemented in 17 states, according to the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, which advocates for gun control. All but two of the states with such laws in place have Democratic-majority legislatures. The Arkansas Legislature is Republican-majority.
Some opponents feel that this is a “slippery slope” toward eliminating the second amendment rights provided in the United States Constitution, by enacting the legislation.
Hutchinson and other Republicans, have largely remained skeptical and have steered clear of such laws, citing concerns about the due process legal rights of people whose guns would be seized.
But, due to multiple mass shootings that has occurred recently in Texas and Ohio, it has prompted a swell of support among national Republicans seeking to take action against such massacres.
A bill sponsored earlier this year by Arkansas State Senator Greg Leding, D-Fayetteville, would have required that two law enforcement officers swear in an affidavit presented to a judge that probable cause exists to issue such an order. That law included a higher burden of proof in an attempt to get the governor’s support, Leding said Wednesday. The backing of support by a gun advocacy group was then withdrawn
Hutchinson signaled an openness toward red flag legislation last year, but some other Arkansas Republicans have remained steadfastly opposed.
U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., has proposed legislation to open up federal funding to states that pass red flag laws. President Donald Trump said he was calling for legislation that would allow guns to be “taken through rapid due process.”
Hutchinson, in a separate meeting in the morning with local reporters at his Capitol office, said the onus would be on the state’s lawmakers to come up with workable legislation before the next regular legislative session in 2021.
The Governor said he preferred the term “extreme risk protection orders” rather than “red flag” law to describe a policy through which a judge could sign an order to temporarily seize a person’s guns if a sufficient burden of proof is met to show that the person is a potential threat to himself or someone else.
An insistence on a strict burden of proof, however, could doom the prospects of any red flag proposal, especially if a large number of state Republican lawmakers continue to withhold their support.