(WHTM) — After the mass shooting in Maine, gun control advocates are calling again for measures like Extreme Risk Protection Orders, commonly known as “red flag laws.” Pennsylvania does not have one, but they argue, the time is now.
A red flag bill narrowly passed the state House in the spring, but it has not gotten far in the Senate.
“We really need to get it done,” Sen. Vincent Hughes (D-Philadelphia) said.
Hughes says red flag laws are just common sense, and he wants his Republican colleagues to act.
“It will be the right thing to do,” he said. “Red flags, which if in place, might have been able to prevent a similar situation to what occurred in Maine.”
After a gunman killed 18 people in Maine, gun control advocates are also calling on state lawmakers to do more.
“Every day that goes by unfortunately means we’re risking…a horrific mass shooting,” said Adam Garber, executive director of CeaseFirePA.
Red flags allow law enforcement, usually on advice from family members, to temporarily take guns away from someone who is a threat to themselves or other people.
“It gives those people who are the closest to you the opportunity to intervene before the violence,” Garber said, explaining this law could help prevent not just homicides, but suicides as well.
A bill to do this passed the Pennsylvania House in May, but very narrowly.
“I rise in strong opposition to gun control, House Bill 1018,” Rep. Stephanie Borowicz (R-Clinton, Union Counties) said on the House floor in May
Stuck in committee in the Republican-controlled Senate, it is likely to face similar opposition.
“It is an insult. An insult to the founding, our Commonwealth and its principles,” Rep. Russ Diamond (R-Lebanon County) said during a debate over the bill in May.
Some lawmakers argue the bill is unconstitutional, like Republican Rep. Abby Major, who read from the state constitution on the floor.
“Article One, Section 21 of the Pennsylvania state constitution that we are sworn to uphold clearly states: the right of the citizens to bear arms in defense of themselves, and the state shall not be questioned,” said Major, who represents parts of Armstrong and Westmoreland Counties.
“It is common sense to have oversight over things that can kill you,” he said.
His message to opponents is simple.
“Pass it. Vote it…Get it done,” he said.
Democrats are pursuing other gun control legislation. State Senator Katie Muth, who chairs the Senate Democratic Policy Committee, announced a hearing on Monday, Oct. 30. The committee will discuss Hughes’ bill to expand background checks.