"Red-Flag" legislation on the docket in North Dakota

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BISMARCK, N.D. - House Bill 1537 may have bipartisan support among its authors, but it may be one of the session's more contentious bills.

Thirteen states have "red-flag" legislation allowing police to take guns from people who pose a threat to themselves or others.

Rep. Karla Rose Hanson, D-Fargo, wants to make North Dakota the 14th.

Hanson's bill would let family or law enforcement petition a court for a public safety protection order, prohibiting people from owning or buying a gun for one year.

West Fargo Police Chief Heith Janke says calls for suicidal individuals increased 40 percent from last year and multiple police chiefs at Tuesday’s press conference say the bill will save lives.

"This bill would allow us to remove the weapon from the individual while they're in a mental crisis and before they create a tragedy and become a statistic themselves," said Janke.

Hanson says the intention is to reduce suicides, cut down on danger to law enforcement, and prevent active shooter situations, including in schools.

Fargo Police Chief David Todd says his department responded to nearly 1,400 calls for suicidal individuals in 2018.

Hanson cited state data showing there were 103 gun-related deaths in 2017, an all-time high, 93 of which were suicides.

Gun rights legislators are calling this bill a guise to take guns away. Rep. Rick Becker, R-Bismarck, says the good intentions have unintended consequences, which is why he opposes it.

"These are like low hanging fruit type of solutions that aren't actually solutions. They're feel-good propositions and they have very strong adverse consequences," said Becker

The bill doesn't have a hearing scheduled yet.

Here's the bill draft: https://www.legis.nd.gov/assembly/66-2019/documents/19-0337-04000.pdf