It seems red flag laws are on everyone’s mind. What is a red flag law? How do red flag laws affect a gun owner’s rights? What is the current status of red flag laws in Georgia?
Red Flag Laws: The Basics
Extreme risk protection orders are also known as “red flag laws”. They are a form of protective order that will allows officers to remove firearms from the possession of individuals who have been found by a judge to be a risk to themselves or others. These types of orders – very much like domestic violence protective orders – allow a judicial officer to take a complaint or report from a law enforcement officer, family member, or health professional ex parte, outside the presence of the person who is the subject of the order. If the judge finds evidence sufficient to believe this individual:
- Is a threat or risk to himself, herself, or others; and
- Possesses firearms;
The judge can order all firearms in the targeted individual’s possession confiscated by law enforcement on a temporary basis. In most states with established red flag procedures, the immediate ex parte order and confiscation is followed by a hearing that will allow the target (now known as the “respondent”) to present evidence to overcome the initial decision that he is a threat. Temporary protective order can be extended for up to a full year. Currently, seventeen states and the District of Columbia have established extreme risk protection order processes established by statute.
Georgia is not among those seventeen states. There are no red flag statutes in Georgia and no mechanism for extreme risk protection orders.
Domestic Violence Protection Orders
Actually, firearms can already be confiscated as part of domestic violence protection orders. However, not everyone falls within the reach of a domestic violence protection order, as those must be brought by someone with whom a domestic relationship exists or has existed. Interestingly, in some states law enforcement, family, acquaintances, and health professionals can bring an action for an extreme risk protection order.
What about federal rules on red flag orders? Currently there are no established laws allowing federal extreme risk protection orders. However, there have been various bills introduced this year in congress, both in the house and senate.
Are you paying attention?
California senator Dianne Feinstein introduced Senate Bill 506, the extreme risk protection order act, which would allow states to use grants to develop red flag laws.
Florida senator Marco Rubio introduced a separate bill encouraging grants for red flag legislation in states. Additionally, he introduced H.R.1236 – the house’s extreme risk protection order act of 2019. It was amended to create a national red flag process and, additionally, provided states grant money for red flag legislation.
All proposed federal legislation would add individuals subject to an extreme risk protection order to the list of individuals prohibited under 18 USC 922(g) from possession of firearms or ammunition.
As you can see, no extreme risk protection order laws exist in Georgia, but federal legislation is pending in several different versions. Furthermore, there is always the possibility the law could change in Georgia.
For more information on red flag laws in Georgia or in any state, call The Law Offices of Matthew W. Kilgo, (678) 842-4331. Watch the full video of this blog post here: