DES MOINES, Iowa — Senator Jake Chapman, R-Adel, said he opposes gun legislation that would allow authorities to temporarily take firearms from someone deemed to be a danger to themselves or others.
This puts him at odds with U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley, who said at a fundraiser Monday that gun owners should back “red flag” laws and other measures to help prevent mass shootings.
The idea behind red flag laws is to restrict potentially dangerous people, rather than restrict the sale of weapons. It authorizes courts to issue a special type of protection order, allowing authorities to temporarily seize firearms from people the judge deems to be a threat to themselves or others.
Chapman said it goes against the concept of “innocent until proven guilty” and violates the Constitution.
“I think it’s a very slippery slope to go down, when we’re going to start taking property and violate someone’s 4th Amendment rights in the name of public safety,” he said.
Seventeen states have some version of red flag laws, including Florida, California, Illinois and Nevada. Prior to the 2018 mass shooting in Parkland, Florida, only five states had such laws.
Democratic voters at the state fair said they disagree with Chapman’s stance on red flag laws.
“It sounds like a cop-out because it’s a way to rationalize doing nothing and that’s not acceptable,” fairgoer Steve Van Lieshout said.
Chapman said instead lawmakers should focus on allocating resources toward mental health.
“What they need is treatment, they need help, they need counseling, but taking away their guns is not the appropriate avenue,” he said.
Those calling for more gun control have argued that mental health is only a fraction of the issue.
“Having been an administrator for a long time in schools, sometimes it’s really hard to get services to people who are truly struggling and need support and all of the sudden we say, ‘we should have’ and it’s too late,” Hope Bossard said.
Van Lieshout said it’s probably difficult to measure how effective red flag laws are, but any progress is good.
“It doesn’t sound like a silver bullet, but I think multiple things need to be done and maybe that’s part of the solution but it doesn’t sound like a simple solution for a complex problem.”