House Bill 1537 would allow family members and law enforcement to seek a court-issued “public safety protection order” preventing somebody from possessing a firearm for up to one year, although a judge could extend the order. A petition could filed because a gun owner has committed or threatened violence in the past year, has been convicted of or arrested for domestic or sexual assault or has been cruel to animals, among other reasons.
Violating a protection order would be a Class A misdemeanor for the first offense and a Class C felony if it happens again within a year.
“Public safety protection orders save lives by enabling people to act before warning signs escalate into tragedies,” the bill’s chief backer, Fargo Democratic Rep. Karla Rose Hanson, said during a state Capitol press conference.
Hanson singled out suicide, law enforcement safety, and school shootings as areas the bill would address. From Andrew Horn, KFYR:
Fargo Police Chief David Todd says his department responded to nearly 1,400 calls for suicidal individuals in 2018.
Hanson cited state data showing there were 103 gun-related deaths in 2017, an all-time high, 93 of which were suicides.
LEAP Forward is grading action on HB 1537 and will be scoring support for the legislation.