Georgia bill would block ‘red flag’ orders that require surrender of guns

Guns confiscated by the DeKalb County State Court Probation Department from owners convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence. KENT D. JOHNSON/ kdjohnson@ajc.com

A House Republican lawmaker has filed legislation targeting any future laws that would require those who are found to be a threat to themselves or others to surrender their weapons.

State Rep. Ken Pullin, a Zebulon Republican, said he believes "red flag" laws, which would that takes guns away from a citizen that a judge deems to be a threat, violates due process rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution. Pullin's legislation would challenge any future measure since federal law supersedes state law.

So-called "red flag" proposals received attention last summer after President Donald Trump suggested passing the gun law in response to high-profile mass shootings in Texas and Ohio — putting focus on a similar Georgia proposal. Trump has since cooled on pushing for the ban.

Since then, “anti-red flag” bills have gained popularity as gun rights supporters have sought to create “Second Amendment sanctuaries.”

“Under my bill, if U.S. Congress passes ‘red flag’ legislation or if an executive order is issued by president where the sole intent was to confiscate guns, then Georgia would be exempt from enforcing that legislation,” Pullin said.

According to the legislation, House Bill 751, anyone — including a law enforcement officer — who tried to enforce a "red flag" law from another state or the federal government could be charged with a felony and serve up to three years in jail and face a fine of up to $5,000.

Georgia does not have a "red flag" law, but state Rep. Matthew Wilson, a Brookhaven Democrat, filed House Bill 435 to allow state residents and law enforcement officers to ask a superior court judge to determine whether someone is a threat. Similar laws have been enacted in 15 states, including Florida, and Washington, D.C.

Wilson said Pullin’s bill would set up a “constitutional showdown in federal court.”

“We should be giving law enforcement officers more tools for them to be able to protect people rather than making it a felony for them to do their jobs,” he said.

Pullin said he’s unsure if his bill will make it through the Legislature this year, but he wanted to start a conversation.

“This is really about pushing back against federal government and stat government to say if they attempt to pass laws like this, Georgia’s not going to adhere to it,” he said.

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