'Red Flag' laws getting another look

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CARSON CITY, NV (KOLO) In the wake of the recent mass shootings, gun control measures are again being discussed.

One red flag or extreme protection order law is thought to have a chance at bipartisan support in Congress. By January it will be in effect in Nevada.

Red flag laws allow family members to ask a judge to temporarily bar someone from having access to firearms if they are deemed a threat to themselves or others.

Fifteen states have some form of extreme protection order laws, and in January Nevada will join them as AB 291, passed by the 2019 legislature, goes into effect.

Written in the wake of the mass shooting in Las Vegas by a survivor of that incident, Assemblywoman Sandra Jauregui, the bill originally focused on prohibiting bump stocks which allow semi-automatic rifles to fire automatically.

It also lowered the blood alcohol limit for possession of a firearm and allowed local jurisdictions to pass more restrictive measures. A late, sudden addition of the red flag provision set off a partisan battle, but it passed and was signed by the governor.

The law will require the removal of weapons for an initial seven day period while the claims are evaluated and a renewable extension of a year if concerns are proven.

It will be up to local law enforcement to collect the weapons, and one might expect those encounters to be high risk situations. But Carson City Sheriff Ken Furlong says that won't be the big change you might imagine.

"We have long been addressing the weapons issues, very often I would like to note with family assistance, removing the weapons from the home or access if you will, while there's a period of cooling off or a period of evaluation."

Furlong says the task will most often fall to trained Behavioral Health Officers who deal with these issues "fairly regularly."

But he says his officers have long been getting significant help from the families of the at-risk person.

The new law, he says, will be just one more tool and he expects it to have an impact on suicidal and domestic violence cases.

"I'm going to suggest to you it's going to be a major advantage for law enforcement because it's allowing us to take assertive action to prevent loss of life to persons in crisis or others while we get that crisis under control."

Again the law goes into effect in January.

We may see other states follow. Republican Senator Lindsey Graham has argued it's a sensible way to keep guns out of the wrong people's hands. His proposal would make federal grants available to states which adopt their own versions.

His stance indicates there may be a chance for bipartisan support in congress.

The vote here in Nevada followed party lines.

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