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State Rep. Merika Coleman pushing to bring up her ‘red flag’ law during a special session

In response to the mass shootings in New York and Texas, many lawmakers around the country are reconsidering “red flag” laws as a way to prevent future gun violence.

A bipartisan group of senators in Washington, D.C. have said they reached a compromise on a potential new gun control bill that would incentivize states to pass red flag laws.

A red flag law would allow authorities to confiscate guns from a mentally unstable individual if that person is deemed a threat to others or themselves by a judge.

State Rep. Merika Coleman (D-Birmingham) sponsored a red flag gun bill in the Alabama Legislature in 2019 and is pushing to do so again in the near future.

Coleman joined Alabama Pubic Television’s “Capitol Journal” on Friday to discuss why she wanted to bring up a red flag bill during a special session.

“[M]y hope and prayer really is that we can handle this actually in a special session,” Coleman said. “It’s timely with the number of mass shootings that have been happening around the country, and so we’re hearing that we’re going to come in, a special session to deal with some additional federal dollars that are being sent to the state of Alabama, and it’s timely enough to bring this issue up as well, and I’m hoping that whether the governor decides that it’s timely enough that maybe my colleagues in both bodies will do that overriding vote to be able to take this bill up as well.”

The state representative said this was something Republicans and Democrats should agree on.

“[T]his is a nonpartisan issue,” she argued. “You have folks around the country, both Democrats and Republicans, that support law enforcement having a tool that they can use if someone is a harm to themselves or to others.”

Coleman said there were also ways to prevent from this being abused, which was a concern by some lawmakers last time the law was proposed in Alabama.

“We had a lively discussion about what if a family member or an ex-partner or someone just wants to be punitive against someone, how do you protect that? And again that was a valid point,” she said. “So the newest version of the bill just allowed for some type of professional, whether it was a school official or your psychiatrist or law enforcement, we want to make sure that it’s somebody that can actually identify and has legitimate credentials.”

She also emphasized that she was willing to work with members from the opposing party to write a bill that could pass but also protect the citizens of the Yellowhammer State.

“Help me write the bill,” she said. “We have constituencies on both sides of the aisles, and I want to make sure that something passes, something number one has a chance to pass, but that it passes that it’s something that people are not suspicious of.”

Coleman said she believed in gun rights and was not interested in taking away guns from law-abiding citizens.

“I’m a gun owner as well,” she said. “I want to be able to protect my home. I want to be able to protect my property. I want to be able to protect my children and my family. So I don’t want anyone to think that a piece of legislation that I have out there would be something that was adverse to that. So I welcome my Republican colleagues to work with me to pass this legislation.”

Yaffee is a contributing writer to Yellowhammer News and hosts “The Yaffee Program” Weekdays 9-11am on WVNN. You can follow him on Twitter @Yaffee