Congresswoman Susan W. Brooks

Representing the 5th District of Indiana
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Indiana could serve as a model for red flag laws

Aug 26, 2019
In The News advocated for the use of red flag laws early this month following the mass shootings that killed 31 in Dayton, Ohio, and El Paso, Texas.

The Kokomo Tribune recently reported on a case in Greentown in Howard County last month that illustrates how the red flag law is used in Indiana when police officers seized all the firearms of a man who had been firing his weapons in his house while hallucinating.

State legislators passed Indiana’s red flag law (called the Jake Laird Law) in 2005, becoming one of just a few states with such legislation that allows family members, guardians or police officers to ask judges to temporarily take custody of a citizen’s firearms, with or without a warrant, when there is cause to believe a person intends to harm himself or someone else. The causes could be such things as mental illness, escalating threats, substance abuse or domestic violence.

Now 15 states and Washington, D.C., have red flag laws. Although Texas and Ohio do not, their legislators have proposed such a bill.

In Indiana, once guns are confiscated a judge must hold a hearing within 14 days. That begins a process of determining if the firearms should be returned or destroyed.

Rep. Susan Brooks, a Republican who represents part of Howard County, said in the Tribune story the due process built into Indiana’s red flag law makes it a good template for national legislation to help prevent mass shootings. Earlier this year she submitted legislation called the Jake Laird Act that would give grants to encourage other states to adopt red flag laws.

In the Greentown incident, the man fired 10 rounds inside his residence after reportedly hallucinating that someone had broken into his house. Police said there were other people inside at the time who could easily have been shot.

The Tribune reported that officers transported the man to a local health facility where he was to undergo a mental health evaluation. Police then searched the home and found seven guns inside, all of which were seized so the man wouldn’t have access to them when he returned.

The Jake Laird Law was named after an Indianapolis police officer who was shot and killed in 2004 by a mentally ill man, who had been allowed to keep his guns even after being arrested months earlier.

Howard said the Jake Laird Law has been used more than 700 times in Indianapolis alone since it passed in 2005. In Howard County, officers reportedly use the law to confiscate weapons about 10 times a year.

Police Marshal James Skinner, who was called to the scene of the Greentown shootings, said, “If he (the shooter) still had those guns in his possession, something like that could happen again, and the next time someone could get hurt or injured,”