Commissioners unite to support 'red flag' legislation in bipartisan effort to prevent gun violence

Recent and ongoing violent tragedies across the country have deeply shaken the nation and have brought the issue of public safety to the forefront for elected leaders at all levels of government. People in Oakland County, and across the country, are demanding leadership from legislators in crafting policies that will make schools and communities safer.

At the June 13 board meeting, Oakland County commissioners joined forces across the aisle to support extreme protection order or "red flag" legislation in Michigan. The board unanimously passed an amended version of an earlier resolution (MR #18063) that called for the careful consideration, development and passage of this type of public safety measure statewide. An urgent determination to develop practical, effective and legally sustainable policies to prevent senseless gun violence brought commissioners together, in a bipartisan manner, on this critical issue.

"It is critically important that we take every action possible to keep everyone in our communities safe," said Commissioner Marcia Gershenson, co-chair of the board's Study Group on Gun Violence. "This law would give our police officers another tool to potentially avert a tragic outcome."

"We are committed to protecting our community," said Commissioner Tom J. Berman, who also serves on the Study Group. "Carefully crafted laws will help our law enforcement prevent violence and protect those that may pose an immediate threat to themselves."

Extreme protection order legislation aims to separate firearms from people deemed to be at high risk of violence or suicide. It would provide family members or law enforcement with the ability to seek immediate relief from the judiciary to keep deadly weapons out of the hands of individuals who pose a clear and present threat to themselves or others. While this type of measure can offer an important opportunity to reduce the risk of tragedies, determining how best to accomplish this legislatively is a complicated and challenging task.

The amended resolution the board passed last week recognizes the complexity of effectively crafting "red flag" laws. It urges the Michigan Legislature to carefully consider all the important issues related to "red flag" legislation to ensure that it: protects the rights of all parties; ensures due process; creates provisions to ensure access to mental health treatment; strengthens provisions to allow law enforcement to intervene and assist troubled individuals prior to tragedies occurring; and creates penalties to ensure it is not inappropriately used as a retaliatory tactic. The amended MR #18036 states: "it is critical that legislators take adequate time to carefully craft this legislation to ensure that the rights of all parties are respected and that this new tool can be effectively utilized by families and law enforcement to enhance public safety."

"With the vast number of tragedies we have witnessed across the country, it demonstrates that most had warning signs. Given this fact, it makes sense to pass legislation to intervene for those who are a danger to themselves and others," said Sheriff Michael J. Bouchard. "I urge the legislature to act on a policy which ensures a due process for those dealing with mental health issues as well as a continuum of treatment options."

The bipartisan members of the board's Study Group on Gun Violence, along with their colleagues on the Board of Commissioners, are committed to the urgent and necessary task of finding new, innovative and effective ways of curbing gun violence. For additional information about the board and its gun safety efforts, call 248-858-0100 or visit www.oakgov.com/boc.

Published: Wed, Jun 20, 2018

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