LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – The committee where all state gun legislation starts made it clear Monday that two bills may not make it out.
A pair of Democrats, Rep. Greg Leding and Sen. Will Bond, have drafted their own red flag law, which would temporarily seize guns from Arkansans who are deemed dangerous.
“That, sir, I find extremely dangerous and troubling,” Tim Loggins, a gun rights advocate and Arkansas Department of Correction retiree, told the joint judiciary committee. “What we’re really talking about is we want to expand the ability to take private property. We’re wanting to expand the government’s ability to deny my rights to a weapon.”
Family members, friends and police would ask judges to issue temporary restraining orders on gun owners if they appear to pose a threat to themselves or others. Law enforcement would take away the weapons for 72 hours, then a judge would decide to give the weapons back or extend the temporary restriction.
“This is a violation of our constitutional right,” St. Sen. Trent Garner, R-El Dorado, told his colleagues. “You’re guilty until proven innocent.”
About a dozen states have red flag laws on the books. But unlike the others, Leding and Bond’s bill would punish people who falsely report a gun owner. They would face a felony.
“This law is a wolf in sheep clothing,” Garner said.
For that reason, Garner told the committee he wants to file an amendment to change the bill’s name.
“The Arkansas Gun and Personal Property Seizure Law,” he said, which drew some laughs from the crowd.
Fellow Republican, co-chair Linda Collins-Smith, R-Pocahontas, would prefer it not even make it that far.
“It’s a bad bill. Period,” Collins-Smith told Garner. “So I would hope that you would be encouraged just to not support the bill. Period.”
The other bill sponsored by Leding and Bond would raise the age to 21 to buy assault or semi-automatic weapons.
“There is no such thing as an assault weapon,” Loggins said. “Any weapon can be used to assault.”
Further discussion on these pieces of legislation will take place during next year’s session, which starts in January.