This bill — known as the Jake Laird Act of 2018 — would authorize the U.S. Attorney General to make grants to states for the seizure of firearms from individuals who are determined to be a danger to themselves or others (a type of law known as a “red flag law”). Only states with laws in place for firearms seizure would be eligible for these funds.
Individuals would considered “dangerous” if they meet one or more of the following conditions: 1) presents an imminent risk of injuring themselves or another individual; 2) have a mental illness that is controlled by medication, but have demonstrated a pattern of not voluntarily taking the medication; 3) are documented as having a propensity for violent or emotionally unstable conduct; and/or 4) pose a significant danger of harming themselves or others by possessing a firearm.
Law enforcement could seize a firearm without a warrant if they determine that an individual is dangerous under the above criteria under this bill. Within 48 hours of the seizure, law enforcement must file a return with the proper court that provides information about the timing and quantity of firearms taken in the seizure.
Within 21 days of a firearm seizure, the court would hold a hearing to determine whether the individual is dangerous. If the individual isn’t determined to be dangerous, their firearm(s) would be returned to them. If the individual is found to be dangerous by clear and convincing evidence, the law enforcement agency would be ordered to retain the firearm(s) seized, revoke the individual’s license(s) to carry a firearm, and enter an order restraining the individual from acquiring a firearm. Firearms that do not belong to the individual would be returned to their proper owner. Individuals could request that their firearm(s) be sold, and the proceeds given to them in accordance with local law.
An individual found to be dangerous by the court could petition the court to return the seized firearm(s) after 180 days. The court would return the firearm(s) if the individual proves they are not dangerous by preponderance of the evidence. If the petition is denied, the individual could file another petition for the return of the firearm(s) 180 days after the previous denial. Nothing would prevent a court from setting its own hearing to determine the danger level sooner than the 180-day limit placed on the individual.
Finally, if an order preventing an individual from possessing firearms is still in effect five years after it was ordered, local law enforcement may be ordered to destroy the seized firearms.