HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — Lawmakers at the state capitol are busy taking up several bills. Everything from declaring pizza as a state food to a critical policy like a “red flag” law concerning guns and those who are unstable.
The “Red Flag” bill is significant. The measure is the first big update to the groundbreaking law since it was passed more than 20 years ago.
The law stems from the Connecticut Lottery shooting back in 1998. A disgruntled employee returned to the office and killed four of his co-workers, before turning the gun on himself.
Lawmakers at the time passed a law restricting access to guns for those who are showing signs of mental illness. The risk protection orders are designed to allow authorities to go in and take guns away from someone who is a danger to themself, or others.
Lawmakers are trying to close a loophole. Currently, the law only applies to those who possess firearms and the warrant expires after a year. The changes include stopping someone from purchasing a gun and extending the “risk warrant” in perpetuity.
After six months, the person can try and prove they’re not a danger in order to get their weapons back. Medical professionals and family members can launch an investigation into whether the person is troubled and his or her weapons should be taken. Authorities can seize all deadly weapons. Including, guns, knives, and any other deadly device.
State Representative Steve Stafstrom the Chair of the legislature’s Judiciary Committee says Connecticut’s law works. “We know for every ten to twenty risk warrants issued in Connecticut, it saves one life. so if this new process allows for an extra ten, twenty, thirty, forty risk warrants a year to be investigated those are lives we are saving.”
Lawmakers say between 1999 and 2013 a Duke University study showed Connecticut’s “Red Flag Law” prevented 78 suicides. Since the original law was passed more than 2,600 risk warrants were issued.
Nineteen states and the District of Columbia have passed similar laws. The measure passed the statehouse with bipartisan support 93 to 55. The bill now moves on to the state Senate.