State Rep. Jerry N. Govan Jr., chairman of the S.C. Legislative Black Caucus, announced he plans to file a bill to establish a “red flag law” authorizing law enforcement to seize firearms and ammunition from an individual if that individual is found to pose a risk of imminent personal injury to himself or others.
Under the bill, a solicitor, assistant solicitor or two law enforcement officers may file a complaint with any probate court for the issuance of a warrant.
When considering whether to issue a warrant, a judge shall consider factors, including:
• Recent threats or acts of violence by the person, directed toward himself or others.
• Recent acts of cruelty to animals by the person.
• The reckless use, display or brandishing of a firearm by the person.
• A history of the use, attempted use or threatened use of physical force by the person against others.
• Prior involuntary confinement of the person in a hospital for persons with psychiatric disabilities.
• The illegal use of controlled substances or abuse of alcohol by the person.
No later than 7 days after the execution of a warrant, the county probate court must hold a hearing to determine whether any seized firearms and ammunition should be returned to the person. The state has the burden of proving all material facts by clear and convincing evidence.
“This is a commonsense approach to preventing gun violence. If you are a threat to yourself or to those around you, local law enforcement should have the ability to step in before a tragedy happens,” Govan said in a release.
“This bill respects the rights of the individual, it upholds due process and it will make our communities safer,” the Orangeburg Democrat said.
Additionally, Govan reaffirmed the South Carolina Legislative Black Caucus’s support for the enactment of a state hate crime statute.
“It is time for South Carolina to join the overwhelming majority of states that already have hate crime laws. Hate has no place in our state,” Govan said.
The hate crime bill would target those who commit a crime with the intent to assault, intimidate or threaten a person because of their race, religion, color, sex, age, national origin, sexual orientation or homelessness. The bill also penalizes malicious injury to personal and real property.
“I promised my constituents after the tragedy at Mother Emanuel that the General Assembly would pass hate crime legislation,” said Rep. Wendell Gilliard, D-Charleston, whose district includes the church where nine African-American worshipers were murdered by a white supremacist in 2015.