Local law enforcement, gun sellers weigh in on Red Flag Law


TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV) — In recent weeks, there have been deadly shootings across the nation. Meanwhile, the Red Flag Law has become part of the conversation around gun control.

Indiana has had a Red Flag Law for years. The law, also known as the Jacob Laird Law was passed in 2005 after several Indianapolis Police officers were shot by a man who went on a rampage.

It was later discovered the suspect received care at a mental hospital months before the shooting.

The law says a dangerous person is someone who presents a risk of personal injury to themselves or another person, has a mental illness and has not shown a pattern of taking their medication consistently, or has documented evidence against them that gives reasonable belief they’re a threat.

The Vigo County Sheriff’s Office and Terre Haute Police Department have had cases where they were given cause to take a person’s gun because they posed a threat to themselves or others.

“If someone is making threats we would search that residence and if we found weapons we would remove them from the house just in case they were intent on following through on what they had said,” Sheriff John Plasse said.

These threats are often reported or may be seen on social media outlets.

Gun sellers, such as Top Guns, say they make it a priority to make sure guns are put in responsible hands. A background check helps them to do.

“A background check is checking for any type of violence. So any felonies, any type of domestic violence, and any type of mental illness,” said Top Guns CEO Steve Ellis.

According to Ellis, the mental illness portion of the check is part of a questionnaire, so it is not always clear if a person buying a gun is mentally ill.

“If you’ve been deemed as mentally ill, it does not show up on a background check. So in that case the questionnaire is simply relying on the person who’s filling it out and the applicant’s willingness to be honest,” Ellis said.

Ellis also added that gun sellers sometimes use their own discretion before making a sale.

“If we see somebody that’s talking about hurting somebody or threatening to hurt himself or herself them we’re certainly not gonna make that sale,” Ellis said.

According to Sheriff Plasse, while the Sheriff’s Office sometimes finds cause seize guns in a threatening situation, it is not to violate anyone’s rights.

“I know it’s a right to have to have weapons with the Second Amendment, but when people are threatening someone with a weapon or they are acting in a way that makes them look like they’re going to harm someone and they’ve got the means to do that, we take those means away,” Plasse said.

The Sheriff’s Office said they hold on to the guns and keep them as they were when they seized them until the court determines if the gun can go back to the person or not.

According to the law, the person who has the gun taken from them cannot petition for it to be returned to them until at least 180 days after the incident. If they are denied, they must wait an additional 180 days.

Read more about the Red Flag Law here.

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