Experts question Red Flag Laws in BG

Jay Flood, Reporter

Experts in Bowling Green politics voiced their opinions on whether or not Ohio should have red flag laws after Florida’s red flag law was used to remove guns from a 17-year-old who threatened a school shooting, according to a Jan. 16 New York Times article. 

Lawmakers in 19 states and the District of Columbia passed red flag laws that allowed judges to grant law enforcement permission to remove guns from the hands of dangerous citizens after a threat has been made. However, Ohio is not one of these states.

Bowling Green City Council President Mark Hollenbaugh said he is in support of red flag laws in the state of Ohio.

“I think that anything we can do to keep dangerous weapons out of the hands of people that should not have them is a positive thing,” Hollenbaugh said.

The president of Bowling Green State University’s College Democrats, Damon Sherry, said there is a wide range of beliefs within the organization and while they cannot speak for everyone, the group does believe in the ideals of the Democratic Party, and in most cases, agree with their beliefs.

“In the case of red flag laws, I personally agree with the notion that a court should have the right to confiscate guns away from someone who may be a threat to themself or others,” Sherry said.

Out of the 19 states who have red flag laws, only two are controlled by the Republican Party: Florida and Indiana. The Ohio Legislature, controlled by the Republican Party, has proposed red flag laws in a gun control bill, but the bill was withdrawn.

The president of the BGSU College Republicans, Matthew Gergely, also stated that the organization has a wide range of beliefs surrounding gun control. Gergely said that although a majority of the Republican Party is against gun control, it’s more than just a political party for why people oppose it.

“More moderate Republicans who might support red flag laws would only support them if it was voluntary and developed by the state government,” Gergely said. “Republicans don’t trust the federal government and don’t want a broad, mandated law over the entire country when each state is different.”

Gergely argued that some Republicans simply do not want any gun laws because they believe it would cause a domino effect.

“A lot of Republicans, particularly Ohio voters, think that if you budge at all on any sort of gun legislation, then it will eventually lead to the undermining of the second amendment,” Gergely said. “I think the gun culture generated by the gun lobbies, like the National Rifle Association, perpetuates the idea that if you give an inch, they’ll take a mile.”

Gergely interned at former Sen. Rob Portman’s office over the summer and witnessed first-hand the backlash Portman received when supporting a bill that would set aside money for states to use if they chose to develop their own red flag laws.

“As an intern when Portman publicly supported that bill, I had a lot of angry calls from people who were concerned that the federal government would take their guns away,” Gergely said. “I was upset because it was clear to me that they didn’t even read the bill.”

Gergely said he does not think Ohio will pass any red flag laws, unless it is from a ballot initiative, due to resistance from Republicans, gun culture and lobbies.