Opinion | Letter: Support the ‘red flag’ gun bill | SkyHiNews.com

Opinion | Letter: Support the ‘red flag’ gun bill

It was disappointing to read the Sky-Hi News article on March 20 regarding all three of our county commissioners opposing the Extreme Risk Protection Orders (HB19-1177). The “Red Flag” bill would allow family members or law enforcement to petition the removal of firearms from a person in crisis who poses a risk to themselves or others. We wish to add a couple of comments to the discussion.

One-third of mass killings are carried out by individuals with untreated serious mental illness, even when narrowly defined. (www.treatmentadvocacycenter.org/background paper 6/2018.)

Commissioner Linke quipped that the bill is just another “gun grab.” Wouldn’t it have been nice if someone would have grabbed James Holmes’s gun before he massacred those kids in the theatre in Aurora? He was noted to have mental illness prior to the event by University of Colorado Health Sciences Center psychiatrist. Such a law might have saved the lives of 12 people.

Aaron Kivisto, a clinical psychologist with the University of Indianapolis who studies gun violence prevention, has done research to show that the red flag bills decrease suicide rates. (Gun Studies: Permit Laws Reduce Murders; Red Flag Laws Cut Suicides National Public Radio, June 4 2018 by Martin Kaste). Kivisto completed a recent study of the effect of red flag laws in Connecticut and Indiana, two states that have had such laws on the books the longest.

In Indiana, 80 percent of all gun seizures have been due to a concern for suicide rather than homicide or domestic violence. After the enactment of the law in 2005, there was a 7.5 percent decrease in firearms suicides in the 10 years that followed. 

In Connecticut, which passed a red flag law in 1999, there was little effect in the first few years — just a 1.6 percent decrease in gun suicides — possibly because the law wasn’t enforced much at first. After the Virginia Tech shootings of 2007, enforcement increased dramatically. From 2007 and beyond, (gun suicides) decreased by 13.7 percent. Other states with red flag laws include Washington and California, though they’re too recent to have been studied. About 20 states are considering similar legislation.

If you think that mass shootings couldn’t come to Grand County, you are mistaken. Suicide rates in Grand County are too high and treatment for mental illness is lacking in our county. Please reconsider your stance on the red flag gun bill. It could actually have a positive effect.

Deb Thomas-Doberson, Tabernash


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