ND House considers 'red-flag' gun seizure measure

By James MacPherson
Associated Press

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — A bipartisan House bill that would allow authorities to temporarily seize guns from a person who may pose a risk to themselves or others would likely save lives in North Dakota but has no hope in the Republican-led Legislature, a powerful GOP co-sponsor said Monday.

“"It will die in the House,” Senate Majority Leader Rich Wardner told The Associated Press.

Wardner, who has signed on the bill sponsored by Democratic Rep. Karla Rose Hanson, said he has been “cursed at and called names” by constituents for supporting the measure in the firearm-friendly state. The House Judiciary Committee completed its two-day hearing Monday on the bipartisan “red flag” measure, which would allow a judge to order guns temporarily seized if police or family members believe a person is a danger to themselves or others.

A court hearing must be held within 14 days to determine whether to return the guns, or confiscate them for a year or longer. Opponents argue the bill is a violation of due process; supporters say it will save lives.

Janelle Moos, executive director of North Dakota’s Council on Abused Women’s Services, told the committee that people killed in domestic violence incidents are more likely to be killed with a firearm, than those killed in non-domestic violence crimes.

“The presence of a gun in a domestic violence situation makes it five times more likely that the victim will be killed,” Moos said.

Moos and Wardner said the bill already has built-in due process considerations.

Thirteen others states already have a similar law on the books. Hanson, the bill’s primary sponsor, said legislation from some of those states was used partially as a template in drafting the bill.

Jody Ranisate, a Bismarck resident, spoke in opposition of the bill on Monday. She said her younger brother, a former Marine, took his own life after struggling with PTSD.

Ranisate said improved mental health programs and more thorough background checks will do more to save lives.

“Writing more bills is not going to stop the suicides,” she said.
 

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