After the Santa Fe high school shooting, Texas Governor Greg Abbott came out with a series of proposals to improve school security in the Lone Star State. One those proposals was to have the House and Senate “consider the merits of adopting a red flag law allowing law enforcement, a family member, school employee or district attorney to file a petition allowing the removal of firearms from a potentially dangerous person only after legal due process if provided.”
That last part, of course, is the rub. Of the thirteen states that have instituted so-called red flag laws, none have provided anything close to adequate due process protections for firearms owners. Guns are ordered confiscated first — sometimes without the gun owner being notified of the proceeding — and then owners can make their case that they really should retain their Second Amendment rights and property. All at great expense.
So the devil is very much in the details as to how such a law in Texas would be written while preserving due process protections and Second Amendment rights.
Yesterday, the Texas Senate Select Committee on School Violence and Security heard testimony on the merits of a red flag law from the public. We talked to Gun Owners of America lobbyist Rachel Malone about how the day went.
Here’s her testimony:
She tells us that 49 people gave oral testimony before the committee yesterday. Thirty-four were against the law, 11 were in favor and four were either neutral or didn’t give a recommendation. In other words, opponents to such a law carried the day.
As for a red flag law’s prospects in the legislature, Lt. Governor Dan Patrick gave this appraisal:
[A]fter a four-hour hearing on the subject in the Senate Select Committee on Violence in Schools and School Security, Patrick released a statement making clear such proposals wouldn’t make it far in his chamber.
“Regarding the topic of ‘Red Flag’ laws, which was discussed today in the select committee, I have never supported these policies, nor has the majority of the Texas Senate,” Patrick said. “A bill offered last session garnered little support. Governor Greg Abbott formally asked the legislature to consider ‘Red Flag’ laws in May so I added them to the charges I gave to the select committee. However, Gov. Abbott has since said he doesn’t advocate ‘Red Flag’ laws.”
In other words, the chances of a red flag law passing in Texas during the next legislative session are between slim and none. And slim is on life support.
Meanwhile, Governor Abbott can say he did what he said he’d do. He asked the legislature to consider a red flag law…but never said he supported one himself. If Lt. Governor Patrick’s account is accurate, the Governor “doesn’t advocate ‘Red Flag’ laws” at all, and neither does he.
So now the Senate has officially considered it. Tick that box. Mission accomplished.