'Red-Flag' legislation raising concerns with veterans, but has support from some law enforcement

Published: Jan. 30, 2019 at 5:12 PM CST
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HB 1537, commonly known as "red-flag" legislation, has support from a bipartisan base of lawmakers and some law enforcement, opposition from other legislators and veterans groups and even neutral with county sheriffs depending on who you talk to.

The only consensus is that something needs to be done to address the state's mental health crisis.

What is the bill?

HB 1537 creates a public safety protection order, which would allow courts to remove a weapon from someone who presents a danger to themselves and others.

A family member or law enforcement would petition the court for a protection order, followed by a hearing to determine whether there's enough evidence to keep the weapons from people.

Rep. Karla Rose Hanson, D-Fargo, a supporter of the bill says protection orders are less restrictive than involuntary committals. Hanson also said that law enforcement, President Trump's administration and the NRA have all expressed some level of support for this legislation.

Cody Schuh, who owns Shooter's Inc. in Bismarck, spoke against the bill. He says this is a bad bill that needs to be scrapped. Schuh says he understands where supporters are coming from, but in mental health and suicide situations, the court may not have time to interject in the situation.

Ray Morrell with the ND Marine Corps League also argued against the bill saying the veteran community was never consulted. Morrell adds he believes this bill would discourage veterans with PTSD from coming forward and seeking help out of fear they'd lose the ability to fire a weapon, which he says can be therapeutic.