INDIANA RED FLAG LAW: TRYING TO STEM THE FLOOD OF GUN VIOLENCE
If someone is suicidal or an imminent threat to others, should a local judge be able to temporarily take away that person’s guns? Indiana is one of several states with a “Red Flag” law that says the answer to that question is “yes”.
The Indiana Constitution and the U.S. Bill of Rights both recognize an individual’s right to keep and bear arms. However, like any other right, the right to bear arms is subject to reasonable regulation, and, under Indiana Law, a law enforcement officer may seize and keep firearms from mentally unstable or dangerous individuals. (This is known as the “Jake Laird” law.) The “red flag” law here allows police to temporarily confiscate firearms from people who are threatening to harm themselves or others.
With gun violence in the spotlight after two high-profile shootings over the past couple of weeks, Red Flag laws are a topic of discussion throughout the country. Meanwhile in Indiana, where one in every three adults owns a gun, debate continues over how – and whether – to bar those with felony or domestic battery convictions from obtaining a gun license.
In an NPR interview, Indiana Attorney General Curtiss Hill, Jr. explained that the red-flag law in Indiana is a tool that allows police officers to confiscate the guns of individuals that they believe to be dangerous to themselves or dangerous to other people. That can also include possible mental illness and off-medication. The seizure of firearms can be made in one of two ways:
- with a warrant based on probable cause
- without a warrant, with later court approval (In the situation of a warrantless seizure of guns, the police officer is required to immediately apply to court so that the court takes judicial intervention.)
What happens next?
1. If the court orders the firearms held, the individual may file a petition after 180 days seeking return, proving that he or she is no longer dangerous.
2. If the law enforcement agency has kept the firearms for at least five years, the court may order the firearms destroyed or otherwise “permanently” disposed of.
“ Access to a gun can be the difference between life and death in a moment of crisis,” the onethingtodo.org website cautions. “But there is one thing you can do: you can request a Red Flag order, sometimes known as an Extreme Risk Protection Order (ERPO), to temporarily remove guns from the situation and help keep your loved one safe.”
As personal injury attorneys in Indiana, we at Ramey & Hailey law are acutely aware of gun safety. In fact, one of our goals in this personal injury blog is to reach innocent folks whose lives have been thrown off track after they or their children were victims of gun violence or a gun accident. Meanwhile, we want to do all we can to prevent more Hoosiers from becoming victims.