Post Shooting Incident, Senate Favors ‘Red Flag’ Measures

In the aftermath of shooting incidents in Buffalo, New York and Uvalde, Texas, bipartisan senators think a “red flag” bill has the best chance of reaching President Biden’s table.

Several senators think red flag legislation is more likely to become law than changes to vetting passed by the House in March 2021, but stuck in the Senate for more than a year.

Manchin’s Stance

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), a critical swing vote, praised red flag legislation Wednesday.

“What are we doing if we can’t get 70 or 75 members to vote for reasonable child protection?”

“What’s your role in the Senate if it’s not to protect the children?” He asked, dismissing proposals to remove the filibuster and enact gun legislation along party lines.

He discussed red flag legislation with coworkers. “We discussed the red flag. It was effective. It works in Florida.” He stated it’s effective.

Manchin also mentioned gun background check legislation.

He said, “Background checks don’t violate gun owners’ rights.” Last year, Manchin indicated he didn’t support a House plan requiring security checks for all gun transactions and transfers.

His 2013 plan with Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) would not run background checks for transactions between friends and relatives.

“There are many good ideas that will work and we need to pass laws. We can cooperate to safeguard our children,” he said.

“I’ll consider anything realistic and sensible,” he said.

Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), a prominent moderate, told reporters she supports Maine’s red flag legislation.

Collins backed legislation Wednesday to remove guns from mentally disturbed people. She claimed she contacted Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) about the Maine bill.

“If news accounts are right, he suffered from mental illness; therefore, this law may have helped.” She said the Texas shooter, who was 18 years old, got his gun legally and passed a background check.

“I think we should look at what states have accomplished on red flag or yellow flag legislation,” she added.

Background of the Law

In 2018, Collins, Graham, Blumenthal, and Hassan supported the red flag bill.

The Federal Extreme Risk Protection Order Act would have set procedures for getting a court order to restrict a person regarded as an immediate risk from carrying a weapon.

“Red flag legislation is approaching. Sen. Graham and I offered a provision that removes dangerous people from guns,” Blumenthal added.

Marco Rubio, Rick Scott, Jack Reed, and Angus King proposed a red flag bill last year.

Their Extreme Risk Protection Order and Violence Prevention Act would use funds from the Department of Justice to encourage states to pass laws like Florida’s “red flag” law, which was passed after the Parkland school shooting.

Scott said the legislation had been utilized 5,000 times to seize weapons from mentally disturbed or dangerous people.

“In Florida, you can only go through police departments and the courts to confiscate weapons from dangerous people,” he added.

Law enforcement informed him it’d been used 5,000 times. Scott highlighted that Florida raised the age to buy a gun to 21 and said equivalent rules should be adopted at the state level.