Legislative Update …

Posted January 8, 2020 at 9:10 am

Standing against ‘red flag laws’ in Kentucky

As we approach the upcoming legislative session, I have taken note of many of the issues that the people of the 16th District find to be most important to them. One of these topics, which has caused much concern, is the possibility of so-called ‘red flag laws’ being introduced in Frankfort. I want to reassure you all that I am firmly against any such law being enacted in our commonwealth.

So, what exactly are ‘red flag laws,’ and why have they become such a prominent issue in the national dialogue? These laws, also known as ‘extreme risk protection orders,’ allow the temporary confiscation of firearms from individuals who have been deemed to pose a risk to themselves or others. The legislation is designed to fill the void in the law where an individual is becoming increasingly dangerous but has not yet committed any crime. If an individual has not committed a crime or has not yet been determined to be experiencing a mental health crisis, he or she can purchase and possess a firearm.

While many states have utilized these laws for years, the increase in interest is largely driven in response to mass shootings, particularly the incident in Parkland, Florida. In Kentucky, the most recent attempt to propose one of these laws came as a reactionary response to the violent weekend that claimed lives in El Paso, Texas, and our neighbors to the north in Dayton, Ohio. While responsible gun legislation is something that should never be dismissed, these particular laws raise entirely too many questions regarding the violation of individual rights under the Constitution.

There are a multitude of reasons I do not support legal measures of this nature, but foremost among them is that they are clear constitutional violations. The Second Amendment affords us the right as citizens to “keep and bear arms.” There are federal law exceptions to this, such as prohibiting individuals who have committed felonies, violent acts, or have documented metal health issues. However, the situations in which ‘red flag laws’ would be applicable are instances in which a crime has not been committed and the individual has not been declared to have a mental health issue. The firearms are confiscated without any due process in a way that suggests the accused is guilty before proven innocent, which is not the way our legal system operates. Responsible gun legislation is something that should always be considered carefully, but a course of action that violates the constitutional rights of a citizen without due process is not the solution.

As the 2020 Session begins on January 7, I will be ready to fight for the rights of my constituents in the 16th District and will actively oppose legislation like ‘red flag laws’ that openly violate what is afforded to them by the Constitution. If you have any questions or comments about these issues or any other public policy issue, please call the toll-free line at 1-800-372-7181 or email me at Max.Wise@LRC.ky.gov. You can also review the Legislature’s work online at www.legislature.ky.gov.

Note: Senator Max Wise (R-Campbellsville) represents the 16th District which encompasses Adair, Clinton, Cumberland, McCreary, Russell, Taylor, and Wayne Counties. He is the chairman of the Education Committee; as well as co-chairman of the Education Assessment and Accountability Review Subcommittee. Senator Wise is also a member of the Senate Economic Development, Tourism and Labor Committee; the Health and Welfare Committee; the Veterans, Military Affairs, and Public Protection Committee; the Public Assistance Reform Task Force; the Budget Review Subcommittee on Economic Development and Tourism, Natural Resources and Environmental Protection, and the Budget Review Subcommittee on Transportation.