Nearly 40 South Carolina lawmakers called on President Donald Trump Wednesday to reject “red flag” laws that could help family members keep guns out of the hands of people with mental illnesses.
In a letter that was also sent to South Carolina’s members of Congress, 38 members of the S.C. Legislature called the proposed laws “gross violations” of the Bill of Rights and urged the president to focus on changing the laws surrounding “gun-free zones.”
After last month’s mass shootings in Dayton, Ohio, and El Paso, Texas, Trump and U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, of South Carolina, came out in support of “red flag laws,” which would allow family members to ask a court to prevent a loved one who could hurt himself or others from accessing a gun for a period of time.
Graham’s proposal included helping state’s get grants to enact their own version of the law, including hiring mental health professionals to help law enforcement assess whether someone is a threat.
The following state lawmakers signed the letter in opposition to Graham’s proposal: state Reps. Jonathon Hill, Stewart Jones, Josiah Magnuson, Ashley Trantham, Craig Gagnon, Mike Burns, Patrick Haddon, Jason Elliott, Bill Chumley, Garry Smith, Steven Long, Tommy Stringer, Chip Huggins, David Hiott, Anne Thayer, Mark Willis, Bobby Cox, Cal Forrest, Rick Martin, Heather Crawford, Chris Wooten, Nancy Mace, John McCravy III, Alan Clemmons, Mandy Kimmons, Bill Herbkersman, Bill Taylor, Steve Moss, Rita Allison, Sylleste Davis, Bill Hixon and Adam Morgan. Senators who signed on were Rex Rice, Danny Verdin, Larry Grooms, Richard Cash, Wes Climer and Tom Corbin. The letter was also signed by Republican nominee Melissa Oremus, who is running unopposed for a House seat.
The letter was not signed by any of the state’s legislative leadership.
State legislators said the proposed law “flips due process on its head” by allowing a judge to issue an emergency protection order without a trial or letting the person make an argument on their own behalf.
“ ’Red Flag’ laws erode the very cornerstones of our country, the right to keep and bear arms and due process,” the legislators wrote.
Legislators pointed to a decline in violent crime, and said they believed the lower crime rate was thanks in part to responsible gun owners “who successfully stop or prevent tragic deaths every day.”
In the letter, lawmakers called on Trump to stop considering “Red Flag laws” and focus on “the real issue of ‘gun-free zones.’ ” They argued that even if those with a mental illness did not have access to guns, they still would have other means of hurting people, such as knives and cars.