Democrats in the Michigan House and Senate introduced a new bill Thursday that would allow law enforcement officials to remove guns before a crisis happens. This is
The Red Flag law would be targeted toward people who may pose a serious threat to public safety. A Michigan sheriff said this is not law enforcement officials deciding on their own who poses a risk. Typically concern comes from family members or those around an at-risk individual who may have their firearms taken.
"I think one of the things that has to be looked at it in this is that we have had an increase in over the course of the decade in gun violence in our country,” said Cass County Prosecutor Victor Fitz. “And it's not because of the increase in the number of our guns. It's because something has changed in our society."
The gun debate has many sides and any proposed changes usually come with concerns from gun owners about their rights.
"A very important constitutional right which is the Second Amendment,” said Fitz. “The right for someone to possess arms. That's in contrast to certainly concerns about mentally ill individuals."
Mental illness seems to be a key word in discussions about the proposed red flag law.
At the Riverwood Center in Benton Harbor, professionals assist with behavioral health issues every day.
"Every time a violent crime is committed, the first thing people want to say is that it's a mental health issue, and that is not necessarily true,” said Cathy Wenger.
Wenger's day-to-day work can consist of calls from the hospitals and other agencies seeking emergency services from Riverwood. As she evaluated these individuals, she's sometimes told about gun ownership.
When we are completing emergency services screenings on customers, we are told by the family members that a person has made threats or may have a gun in the house,” she said.
Wenger said bill or not, there's already a process for handling these high-risk situations.
"If the person is deemed to be a danger to self or others, there are steps we can take through the court system to make sure that person and their firearms are separated," she said,
In a tweet from the Michigan State Democrats, one senator said, "Saving lives is the purpose of this legislation."
The senator said if we work together to pass this common-sense legislation, we can reduce many factors that contribute to gun-related suicides.