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A new idea about guns

Crossover day — the deadline for the House of Delegates to act on bills House members propose and for the state Senate to do the same for senators’ bright ideas — came this year the same day as the mass shooting at a Florida high school that killed 17 students and staff. And left unconsidered by the House Courts of Justice Committee by crossover day was Del. Rip Sullivan’s second attempt at a law that would allow judges to issue warrants that would allow police to search for and seize weapons of people found to pose a danger to themselves or others.

Sullivan is trying again, but this time with a somewhat different approach. Instead of proposing a kind of search warrant on steriods, as he had in the 2017 and 2018 sessions, he’s suggesting the 2019 session think about a new kind of protective order.

His new bill outlines a more elaborate process for court action to take guns from someone who “poses a substantial risk of personal injury to himself or others in the near future” in language that carefully echoes the law on when people in a mental health crisis may be held in emergency custody or under a temporary detention order.

It provides for an issue of an emergency order, as well as for a full hearing for a temporary order, in which the subject of a requested order would have a full chance to argue for keeping any firearms. There are penalties for people who make false statements about the risk a gunowner poses, to ensure that the protective order isn’t used as a way to get back at someone.

“There’s all kinds of due process here,” Sullivan said.

He noted that President Donald Trump’s school safety commission has endorsed the idea of what it called “extreme risk protection order” laws to give courts a temporary way to keep people who threaten society from having firearms.

“I think there’s bipartisan support,” he said. “I really tried to hone this, to address concerns I think are out there.”

Dave Ress, 757-247-4535,