Today’s Meeting of The Senate Select Committee on Violence in Schools and School Security
AUSTIN – Several grassroots activist groups are worried about government overstepping its bounds where gun rights are concerned, in light of recent school shootings and Governor Greg Abbott’s call to action of the State Legislature to develop and implement a broad-based plan of action for public schools’ security. Residents from around the State, traveled to Austin to provide testimonials. Primarily at issue this morning, were mental health and stability issues, as they relate to firearms possession. The Senate Select Committee on Violence in Schools and School Security met this morning at 9 a.m. to hear invited and public testimony on the following:
Examine whether current protective order laws are sufficient or whether the merits of Extreme Risk Protective Orders, or “Red Flag” laws, should be considered for seeking a temporary removal of firearms from a person who poses an immediate danger to themselves or others, only after legal due process is provided with a burden of proof sufficient to protect Second Amendment rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution.
Several points have come up for lawmakers to consider, including raising the legal age for gun ownership from 18 to 21 years, and going beyond domestic protective orders and creating a type of Extreme Risk Protective Order or “Red Flag” law that would allow authorities to temporarily remove firearms from a person who is deemed an immediate danger to themselves or others.
Wait a minute. Temporarily remove firearms from someone who poses an immediate danger? So, when they are no longer an immediate danger, we give back their guns? This will prevent mass shootings by crazy, angry people?
Within the last 26 minutes of the above video, posted by Rachel Malone on her Facebook page, Edward Walker, an attorney who promotes advocacy of Second Amendment rights, testified before the committee. His opening statement acknowledged the tragedy of school shootings causing grieved citizens to ask questions such as, How can we prevent such a thing from happening again? However, he warned, “A new Red Flag Protective Order is not the answer,” nor will it be a legislative salve.
Walker pointed out that there are avenues that protect an individual’s right to Due Process within the Code of Criminal Procedures, Texas Penal Code, Health and Safety Code, and Family Code, which serve to preempt the homicidal sociopath. He also pointed out several laws on the books, hoping that Committee Members would consider existing statutes, rather than creating unnecessary ones.
Making reference to proposed HB866 in 2017, Walker labeled the bill “Troublesome legislation,” as it would have authorized confiscation of firearms of people who may not have committed any unlawful acts, nor threatened violence. He further stated that the danger of the proposed bill would have circumvented a person’s Second Amendment rights and allowed police to enter their homes, seize their firearms, “simply on the uncontroverted statements made by a practitioner in a ex parte hearing that this person had exhibited dangerous behavior.”
What made HB866 truly dangerous, Walker explained, was that the proposed law held no definitions, no parameters, nor limitations on how “injurious” was to be interpreted. Further, there was no requirement for a person taken into custody, to have a mental evaluation or treatment by a mental health professional.
Without evidence of a crime committed, or threat of violence, governing officials could have been authorized under such legislation, according to Walker, to confiscate an individual’s firearms, thereby infringing on the citizen’s Constitutional Second Amendment right. This is what gun rights advocates fear, as they provide testimonies in an effort to preserve liberty.
Laws already in place to address the same and related issues to the Red Flag Protective Order, are, according to Walker: the Harassment Law, Terroristic Threat Law, Disorderly Conduct Law, and Criminal Negligence. When there is no probable cause, Walker said that police can currently apprehend a person perceived as a danger or threat, and seize their firearms, according to the Texas Health and Safety Code Chapter 573. Also, in that same chapter, there is a process for a person to file an emergency application for retention to the court to have the dangerous person committed, which would in turn, trigger the prohibition of purchase of firearms under current law.
As one man’s testimonial put it, “The first step to confiscation, is to regulate and control.” Another man admonished the Senators to remember their oath of office to “Defend and protect our Constitutional rights from both foreign and domestic enemies, even if those enemies are yourselves.”
One man (in the video below) declared the solution to be, “…to create an intense respect for human life in every soul. You may not think that’s possible, but I guarantee you it is. Just ask your Pastor.”
Members of the Senate Select Committee on Violence in Schools and School Security are as follows:
|Chair:||Sen. Larry Taylor|
|Vice Chair:||Sen. Joan Huffman|
|Members:||Sen. Brandon Creighton|
|Sen. Kelly Hancock|
|Sen. Don Huffines|
|Sen. Eddie Lucio, Jr.|
|Sen. Charles Schwertner|
|Sen. Royce West|
|Sen. John Whitmire|