North Dakota lawmaker unsure if she'll reintroduce failed 'red flag' bill after new round of gun violence

State Rep. Karla Rose Hanson, D-Fargo, promotes her "red flag" bill while police chiefs and Senate Majority Leader Rich Wardner, R-Dickinson, listen at the state Capitol Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2019. John Hageman / Forum News Service

BISMARCK —A Fargo lawmaker says she’s unsure if she’ll reintroduce “red flag” legislation aimed at curbing gun violence after President Donald Trump and a Republican U.S. senator offered support for the idea Monday, Aug. 5, in the wake of two mass shootings.

Fargo Democratic Rep. Karla Rose Hanson was the primary backer of a bipartisan bill allowing judges to issue protection orders temporarily preventing people deemed dangerous from possessing guns. The Republican-controlled House easily rejected it in a 76-17 vote in February.

But the idea has gained renewed attention after mass shootings in Texas and Ohio over the weekend. Trump again signaled support for red flag legislation, arguing that "we must make sure that those judged to pose a grave risk to public safety do not have access to firearms and that, if they do, those firearms can be taken through rapid due process."

Trump's remarks reiterated his administration's prior calls for "every state" to adopt "extreme risk protection orders." Hanson provided a March 2018 White House memo stating Trump directed the Department of Justice to "provide technical assistance to states, at their request, on establishing and implementing ERPOs."

South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, tweeted Saturday that it was "time to enact common-sense legislation in Congress to empower states to deal with those who present a danger to themselves and others — while respecting robust due process."


Hanson said Monday she hasn't decided whether to reintroduce the bill during the next legislative session, which won't begin until early 2021. But she said she was "encouraged" by federal lawmakers and the president voicing support for the proposal.

"We'll see what happens in the next year and a half," Hanson said.

Hanson's bill was supported by Senate Majority Leader Rich Wardner, R-Dickinson, and police chiefs from Fargo and West Fargo. As of March, 15 states and the District of Columbia have enacted such laws, according to Everytown for Gun Safety.

But the idea faced opposition among North Dakota lawmakers who have expanded gun rights in recent years. Bismarck Republican Rep. Rick Becker, the primary sponsor of a successful permitless carry bill in 2017, called Hanson's legislation a "gun-grabbing bill" that ran afoul of constitutional rights.

Proponents argued the red flag bill included adequate due process protections.

Hanson acknowledged this year's House vote "wasn't close" but said the proposal may gain support over time.

"There was a lot of learning that was happening about the gun violence issue as a whole, as well as what this bill would really do," she said. "Sometimes things take more than one session."

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