Citizen activist Lesley Hollywood has been working to strengthen gun rights and the Second Amendment through her organization Rally for Our Rights, based in Colorado.
Hollywood believes that many of the laws being proposed and implemented by lawmakers—especially the Red Flag Laws—to curb gun violence are not having their intended effect in the two areas of mass shootings and suicides by gun.
She told The Epoch Times that because Red Flag Laws are relatively new and vary from state to state there is little to no evidence that they work.
In fact, Connecticut had a Red Flag Law in place when the Sandy Hook school shooting happened. California had theirs in place since 2014, and they have seen a public mass shooting every year since then. Florida had the Baker Act (pdf) before its mass shootings.
Indiana has had a red flag law since 2005, but their suicide by gun rate is going up. In 2005 they had 416 gun suicides out 745 total suicides and in 2017 they had 604 gun suicides out of 1,092.
Hollywood has been a leading voice against Colorado’s HB19-1177, “Red Flag” ERPO (extreme risk protection order) legislation and she continues to fight encroaching gun control at the federal, state, and municipal levels.
“There is no mental health component to nearly all of these Red Flag Laws, especially the new ones that are being passed starting in 2018.”
She said that red flag laws often target innocent people and infringe on Second Amendment rights instead of curbing gun violence.
“Instead of creating new laws that will be adding a whole host of other problems, and potentially disarming the innocent, I believe we need to be looking at the laws we already have that are consistently being ignored.”
“For example, if a student says on social media that he or she is going to shoot students, that in itself is a crime and should be handled accordingly. If someone is suicidal, mental health holds can help a person in crisis. If a husband threatens to kill a wife, that is felony menacing.”
Existing laws could have also been enforced in the case of Florida’s Parkland shooter. The police had been called to the shooters home at least 37 times over the course of a few years and yet he was not charged and or given any mental health evaluations or treatment which could have prevented the murder of 17 young people.
Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said that some people, including him, believe that if the Parkland shooter had been subjected to the state’s Baker Act, he would have been banned from purchasing weapons.
In Florida, the Baker Act of 1971 allows for involuntary mental health examination which can be initiated by judges, law enforcement officials, physicians, or mental health professionals if there is evidence that the person is a harm to others or themselves.
Hollywood is concerned that Red Flag Laws which are meant to help stop those who might harm themselves or others will do the opposite by making these people less vocal and harder to identify.
“In fact, I worry Red Flag laws will have such a chilling effect on free speech that those who may be considering following through with a mass shooting will no longer voice warning signs, and those who are suicidal will no longer reach out for help.”
“It’s also important to understand we have a violence problem, not just a gun violence problem. Until we get to the root of the violence problem and stop focusing on the tool, the atrocities will not end.”
Rally for our Rights website states that it “is a non-partisan grassroots organization dedicated to defending and preserving the gun rights of all Americans through frontline activism, tenacious political action, and community outreach.”