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WV gun advocates address federal red flag law concerns

Published: Jun. 17, 2022 at 5:39 PM EDT
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BRIDGEPORT, W.Va (WDTV) - Red flag laws have been a major discussion for years and even more so since the Uvalde shooting.

5′s John Blashke talked to local experts to explain what the laws are and their potential effects.

Last week the House of Representatives passed a bill including language about red flag laws. The bill is still being considered by the senate, but some people have questions about what these laws may do to gun owners.

The FBI Criminal Justice Information Services division in Bridgeport does background checks for every gun purchase in the country.

Assistant Director Mike Christman says 20 states already have red flag laws on the books and they have great potential to help law enforcement.

“One of the tools in the toolbox is to either use red flag laws or a mental health prohibiting order that can then be used into the NICS indices to prevent someone with a mental defect from then purchasing a firearm,” said Christman.

Christman says the work they do relies heavily on tips from the public and that can play a role in how background checks are done. Red flag laws can be enacted in emergency situations to temporarily take a person’s firearms if there’s a potential danger.

Ryan Tacy of ATR Performance, a gun shop in Fairmont, says background checks are necessary to purchase guns, but he’s concerned the emergency level approach officers take with red flags may put people in danger.

“It puts a lot more of our officers in danger in a non essential way -- I think there’s definitely a better way it can be presented to taking care of a persons mental health,” said Tacy.

He says a more careful approach is necessary, where currently gun owners are unaware they’ve been flagged. Tacy says he’s also concerned of biased people abusing the system.

“Someone may have just been mad at them and called a red flag on them that’s a petty way people can use that,” said Tacy “It’s a well meaning system that can be used negatively extremely easily.”

Some of these concerns related to the process are still being debated by the senate.

Reporting in Bridgeport John Blashke 5 news.

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