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President Trump endorses "Red flag laws" following mass shootings

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Posted at 9:26 AM, Aug 05, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-05 12:32:30-04

WASHINGTON — In President Trump's speech following two mass shootings over the weekend, he voiced support for "red flag laws" and other preventive measures aimed at stopping attackers.

In an address from the Oval Office, the president called the shootings in El Paso, Texas and in Dayton "barbaric slaughters" and called for the country to unite to condemn a culture of hatred. As part of his plan to prevent mass shootings, he called for several steps to be taken to better identify potential mass shooters, one of those being Extreme Risk Protection Orders.

"We must make sure those judged to pose a grave risk to public safety do not have access to firearms. And if they do, those firearms can be taken through rapid due process," Trump said. "That is why I have called for 'Red Flag laws' or Extreme Risk Protection Orders."

In Colorado, Democratic Gov. Jared Polis signed the Extreme Risk Protection Order bill into law in April, sparking outrage from many Republicans and leading counties and cities in Colorado to declare themselves second amendment sanctuaries. Gov. Polis' decision to sign the law is also one of several main reasons the "Recall Polis" campaign is urging voters to sign petitions to remove him from office.

Colorado's law allows law enforcement officers or family members to ask a court to temporarily remove guns from the possession of a person determined to be a danger to themselves or others. The person filing the petition may also request their address be omitted from all documents if they can provide evidence having it publicly available could put them at risk. If a court approves an order to seize weapons from someone deemed a risk, they would be allowed a hearing up to 364 days later to determine if their weapons should be returned or where the order should be extended.

El Paso County Sheriff Bill Elder heavily criticized the red flag law, saying it violated due process.

“There is a mental health crisis in this country, in this state and our communities. The Red Flag Bill does nothing to address the underlying mental health of an individual, it only violates in my opinion, the right of a citizen to possess firearms. As I previously stated, I am exploring all available legal options and am committed to vigorously challenge the constitutionality of this law.”

– El Paso County Sheriff Bill Elder

RELATED: 360° Perspective: Red flag laws

In addition to his support for so-called "red flag" legislation, President Trump also called for people who might commit mass murder to be held in "involuntary confinement" when needed.

"We must reform our mental health laws to better identify mentally disturbed individuals who may commit acts of violence and make sure those people not only get treatment, but when necessary, involuntary confinement," Trump said. "Mental illness and hatred pulls the trigger, not the gun."

He also called on social media companies to find ways to spot shooters ahead of time.

"I am directing the Department of Justice to work in partnership with local, state and federal agencies as well as social media companies to develop tools that can detect mass shooters before they strike," Trump said. "The monster in the Parkland High School in Florida had many red flags against him and yet nobody took decisive action, nobody did anything. Why not?"

In addition to those steps, Trump also called for the death penalty for those convicted of hate crime mass murders and urged lawmakers to work together to find solutions.