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Indiana’s Jake Laird Law may move to the federal level

National red flag law?

David Williams | News 8 at 5

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH)- Indiana’s red flag law is back in the national spotlight and a version of it could possibly become federal law.

Indiana’s Jake Laird Law is named after an Indianapolis police officer who was shot and killed in 2004 by a man who struggled with mental illness.

The law was established in 2005, a year after Laird’s death.

The law allows police to seize guns from people who are considered to be mentally ill or a danger to themselves or others. The court then holds a hearing to determine whether the person is dangerous.

“The red flag law allows those firearms to be secured and the courts then have an opportunity then to go back and review should their firearms possessions be restored to them?” said state Sen. Greg Walker, R-Columbus.

After the recent mass shootings in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio that left at least 31 people, focus has turned to establishing a federal red flag law. President Trump also backs the idea.

Republican Congresswoman Susan Brooks has bipartisan legislation on Capitol Hill that would give grants to states so they can put red flag laws in place.

“I would support it on a national basis. I think we’ve seen enough evidence that suggests that it may be a hindrance to some of our personal liberties, but at what expense?” Walker asked. “Taking one’s own life or hurting someone else?”

“I think it’s common-sense proposal to take firearms out of the hands of dangerous people and people who prove to be a danger,” said state Rep. Chris Chyung, D-Dyer.

A 2018 University of Indianapolis study found a 7.5% decrease in firearm suicides in Indiana during the 10 years following the enactment of the law.

Aaron Kivisto, who conducted the study, is a licensed psychologist and co-director of the Clinical Psychology Doctoral Program. He is also an associate professor of clinical psychology at University of Indianapolis. 

Kivisto released the following statement to News 8 regarding the law:

Indiana’s Extreme Risk Protection Order (ERPO) (aka ‘red flag’) law provides law enforcement with an important tool that allows for the temporary seizure of firearms from individuals deemed to be dangerous to themselves or others. Due process for individuals subject to gun seizure is protected through mandatory court hearings in which a judge ensures the appropriateness of the seizure and reviews evidence to determine whether an individual is no longer dangerous and his/her firearms should be returned. We don’t have precise numbers but the information available has shown that Marion County removed guns from nearly 400 individuals in the first 8 years of the law (2006-2013). Research on Indiana’s ERPO law has shown that most seizures occur related to concerns about suicidality rather than homicidality and that there this law has prevented many firearm suicides. Suicide continues to account for roughly two-thirds of all firearm-related deaths and ERPO laws have shown considerable promise in addressing this issue. ERPO laws fill an important gap in that they address the issue of firearms already in circulation rather than preventing new firearms from entering circulation and falling into the wrong hands, which is what laws such as universal background checks address. We know, however, that there are already nearly 400 million firearms in the United States and that some portion of these firearms are owned by individuals who might at some point present a danger. In states without ERPO laws, law enforcement has few options for responding to dangerous individuals who already own firearms.

Aaron Kivisto, associated professor of clinical psychology at University of Indianapolis

State Rep. Woody Burton, R-Greenwood said he also supports the law moving to the federal level.

“I think it’s a good idea, because especially in this day and age with mental illness and getting these guns and doing crazy things, I think it’s a great idea,” said Burton.

“I think we’re taking a step in the right direction,” said state Rep. Melanie Wright, D-Yorktown. “But I think it’s really important not to go too quickly until we test to see what’s working.”

According to the Gifford Law Center to prevent gun violence, 17 states and the District of Columbia have ERPO or red flag laws.