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Delegates call for West Virginia to adopt ‘red flag’ laws

Shortly before Sen. Joe Manchin talked with the press about federal gun-safety legislation, Delegates Barbara Evans Fleischauer and John Doyle issued their own release calling for a West Virginia “red flag” law.

They were attending a National Conference of States Legislatures gathering in Nashville, Tenn., and participated in a press conference with legislators from Ohio and Texas, where weekend mass shootings took place, and more than 25 other states.

Fleischauer and Doyle said they are working with West Virginia groups to craft legislation to permit issuance of extreme risk protection orders, dubbed red flag laws.

“We are used to the idea of a domestic violence protection order,” Delegate Fleischauer said. “Extreme risk protection orders would allow a similar protection order when a judge finds that someone poses a risk of harm of violence to themselves or others.”

Red flag laws typically enable confiscation of weapons from people deemed a threat. Those permitted to report the threat may be police, family or friends and debate often hovers around who may report and on what basis.

Fleischauer, D-Monongalia, acknowledged that red flag laws don’t solve everything.

“The laws we will be introducing have already passed in 12 states, but the governor of Tennessee said it was too early to pass them,” she said. “I don’t know how he could say that to the families of those who’ve lost loved ones in Ohio, Texas, Florida or Connecticut or all of the other states that have experienced this type of carnage. The time for action is now!”

Doyle, D-Jefferson, said, “There are too many loopholes that allow dangerous people to obtain firearms, including those who might harm themselves. … I am deeply concerned with the dramatic increase in mass shootings. I believe this is partly the result of our society being less tolerant of those who are different, both in thought and appearance.”

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