Connecticut Senator Richard Blumenthal is introducing legislation that would allow federal authorities to remove guns from a person who is deemed a threat to themselves or others.
Based on Connecticut’s 20-year-old Red Flag law, he said such a federal statute might have prevented the shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.
“The FBI received tips, so did local law enforcement, that Nikolas Cruz was in fact threatening to do violence with guns," Blumenthal told reporters this week. "They said something, but nobody did anything. The reason is that they were lacking effective tools.”
Under the proposal, law enforcement could remove weapons from a person deemed to be in crisis, after getting a court order. The initial removal would be for 72 hours, and the gun owner would have the right to appeal.
Several states now have their own red flag laws, but Blumenthal said it’s important to standardize the law at the federal level.
“Guns and shooters cross borders," he said. "There’s nothing to prevent them from going from one state to another and that’s why a federal solution is important, a federal Protection Risk Order, or red flag, will help save lives.”
Blumenthal’s Republican co-sponsor on the legislation is South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham. He was asked if he thought that gun rights and gun control could be pushed off by the Senate, because they're too difficult to tackle in an election year.
"I'm not going to go into my election saying I didn't do something," he said. "To the politicians who believe that you're going to be rewarded for punting on this, I think you're making a huge mistake. To the politicians who overreach, I think you're making a huge mistake."
And he acknowledged that he makes a rather odd couple with the liberal Blumenthal on this issue.
"Senator Blumenthal and I come from very different states when it comes to the gun culture," said Graham. "We're 90 percent of the time on the opposite sides of each other when it comes to what to do about gun violence. We found commonality here."