The Texas Senate Committee on Violence in Schools & School Security met on Tuesday to discuss proposed “red flag” laws, in which guns could be confiscated without due process from those suspected to have mental health issues.
Shortly after the shooting at Santa Fe High School, Gov. Greg Abbott held a series of roundtable discussions to craft a plan to address school violence. After the hearings, Abbott rolled out a plan that included his push for legislation to “keep guns out of the hands of those mentally unfit to bear arms, but only after legal due process is allowed to ensure Second Amendment rights are not violated.”
This proposal, commonly referred to as “red flag” laws, came under scrutiny from a coalition of grassroots Second Amendment groups, including Gun Owners of America, Open Carry Texas, Lone Star Gun Rights, Texas Gun Rights, and Texas Firearms Freedom. Versions of the legislation filed by Democrat lawmakers in previous sessions would strip law-abiding citizens of their firearms, plunging them into a years-long battle against the court without any trial by jury or right to appeal.
Support and opposition for the plan by those who travelled to the Capitol to testify fell largely along party lines.
Terry Holcomb, a member of the State Republican Executive Committee for Senate District 3, offered his testimony on behalf of the Republican Party of Texas, citing a plank overwhelmingly adopted by the party earlier this Summer. The platform states, “We oppose monitoring programs, including the Red Flag (that would deprive someone of their right to keep and bear arms without being convicted of a crime or found mentally incompetent by a medical psychiatric professional).”
“I think we have plenty of tools in law today to deal with mental health issues,” Holcomb added.
Conversely, the Texas Democrat party endorsed the plan in their own party platform a few weeks later, declaring the support for, “Allowing families to anonymously request pre-emptive, judicial action restricting the possession or purchase of firearms for loved ones in crisis threatening harm to themselves or others.”
Rachel Malone, the new Texas Director for Gun Owners of America, criticized the lack of due process in offered proposals.
“Without any probable cause of a crime having been committed, a judge can order a person’s firearms to be confiscated,” Malone stated. “This is far too low of a threshold for the removal of a constitutional right.”
The Texas Senate committee will continue to meet until the next legislative session to discuss various aspects of Abbott’s gun proposals.