Senate lawmakers back Patrick, uninterested in ‘red flag’ gun restrictions

August 6, 2018

AUSTIN — In the wake of this year’s school shooting at a Santa Fe High School, the Texas Senate signaled Monday its disinterest in expanding the state’s so-called “red flag” law that calls for removing guns from domestic violence suspects who pose a threat to other people or themselves.

The Senate is most interested in clarifying state law on whether someone convicted of domestic violence can legally possess a firearm and when authorities should return guns to people who have been declared no longer a risk, according to a report from the chamber’s nine-member Select Committee on Violence in Schools.

Mention of a “red flag” law was scant throughout a 32-page report released Monday, hinting at the chamber’s lack of enthusiasm for the idea. Such laws can also remove guns from people who make threats, or for a number of other reasons.

Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican and gun rights defender, surprised those wanting stiffer firearms restrictions when he asked lawmakers to consider the merits of red flag laws after hearing three days of testimony from law enforcement, school safety experts and victims following the shooting at Santa Fe in May. While such a law likely would not have impacted the school shooter’s ability to access a gun, a “red flag” law could have made it more difficult for the shooter from the November Sutherland Springs church massacre to obtain a gun, advocates say.

MORE: After Santa Fe school shooting, Texas unlikely to expand weak red-flag gun law

The recommendations and omissions lay out a likely road map for what the Texas Senate will consider when it returns to Austin in January for its next legislative session. Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, a Republican who controls the Senate, was first to say “red flag” laws are a non-starter in his chamber, and thus unlikely to pass into law.

Andrea Zelinski is a staff writer who covers politics. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook . Send her tips at andrea.zelinski@chron.com . Read her latest stories here .

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