I was alerted to attend the Sept. 19 Loudoun County Board of Supervisors meeting by a call from the VA Constitution Conservatives. The caller named Kate claimed, “Your guns will be taken away by a SWAT team that will kick down your front door at 3 a.m.,” that I need to protect my 2nd Amendment rights.
I disagree with these fear tactics by the VA Constitution Conservatives calling my home phone number with its message of fear and hate. In response, I attended the meeting at 5 p.m. as urged and signed up to speak for the red flag law. Ten women members of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense laws also attended in their red and white T-shirts and six individuals spoke in support of red flag laws. Three people representing the VA Constitutional Conservatives repeated the alarming and false script I heard on my voicemail.
Preliminary 2018 data shows that, of the 1,035 deaths due to guns in Virginia last year, 674 were suicides. According to the Mental Health America (MHA), “Over 45 million Americans – almost 20% - are experiencing a mental illness. Over 10.3 million adults have serious thoughts of suicide in the United States - an increase of nearly 450,000 people from last year’s data set. And 57 percent of adults with a mental illness receive no treatment.”
Board of Supervisors Chairwoman Phyllis Randall (D-At Large) clarified the red flag law, Bill 4031 proposed by Virginia Beach Del. Jason Miyares (R) of the 82nd District. If a person identifies someone who is a threat to themselves or others, they can notify the police to investigate. If police deem the person a threat with probable cause, then they will appear before a judge, who will refer them to a mental health expert, if necessary. This bill will allow concerned family members to:
-Petition the court for a threat order of protection to remove guns from the owner for 14 days.
-Petition for endangered people to have a mental health evaluation.
-Have a hearing within 72 hours to determine If there is “clear and convincing evidence” that the individual is a threat to themselves or others.
-Determine who will remove firearms.
-Have another mental health evaluation after 14 days.
County staff reported that a $750,000 grant to improve domestic violence training and $550,000 for emergency medical technicians has been granted. Good news, but the red flag law would be an inexpensive measure of protection for Loundoun County residents – another tool in the hands of mental health professionals.
We know we have a mental health crisis in this nation and background checks and red flag laws will save lives. If you don’t have a gun at home you can’t grab one to kill yourself or loved ones in an act of despair or paranoia.
A vote was taken and along partisan party lines the recommendation by Randall was defeated. Six Republicans supervisors voted “no” and three Democrats “yes” despite the overwhelming support of six out of nine speakers. The red flag law lost a battle but not the war.
I support Randall’s motion to pass universal background checks and a red flag law already existing in 17 states including our neighbors Maryland and the District of Columbia, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington.