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Anti-gun group: Airport shooting shows need to expand ‘gun violence restraining orders’

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A national gun control organization argued this week the Fort Lauderdale shooting should result in more states adopting preemptive gun confiscation laws for those deemed at risk.

The Coalition to Stop Gun Violence said laws allowing for the temporary seizure of guns from an individual at the request of their family or friends could prevent future attacks like the one that left five dead in a Florida airport.

“While the facts are still emerging, policymakers across the nation should remember that there are legislative options to provide preventative tools to law enforcement and concerned family members,” said CSGV Executive Director Joshua Horwitz in a statement. “As legislatures across the nation return to work this month, we call on more states to consider this life-saving tool.”

The man accused of the mass killing at Fort Lauderdale, Esteban Santiago, 26, reportedly suffered from mental illness but according to his family did not receive adequate treatment.

The CSGV has pushed for such petition processes in California, termed Gun Violence Restraining Orders, and Washington, where they are referred to as Extreme Risk Protection Orders.

In each state, a family member petitions a court for an order prohibiting firearms possession by a person they think poses a threat to themselves or others. In the case of California, the initial order is for 21 days but could be extended for as long as a year if the situation warrants. In Washington, the order is for a year and could be renewed annually. In both cases, the subject of the order can request a hearing to rescind the order while those filing false petitions would set themselves up for a criminal penalty.

The CGSV backed a study of a similar law adopted in Connecticut in 1999 that contends the data reflects one life saved for every 20 risk-warrants issued in that state during the research period.

Gun rights groups and civil liberties organizations to include the ACLU have voiced misgivings over such emergency gun surrender directives, citing concerns over due process. Further, they point out that such mandates offer no diagnosis, counseling, or treatment to those at the center of the order.