Tomorrow, the Committee on the Judiciary and Public Safety will consider Committee Chairperson Charles Allen’s Firearms Control Omnibus Amendment Act, which would strengthen DC’s gun laws by banning bump stocks and making the penalty more severe for high-capacity magazine clips.
The bill also puts in place a “red flag” law that allows MPD, through a court order, to remove firearms and ammunition from individuals deemed dangerous to themselves or others.
The bill, B22-0588, contains provisions from several gun-related bills referred to the Committee, including those introduced by Mayor Muriel Bowser and Councilmember Brianne Nadeau (Ward 1).
“Gun modifications like bump stocks and extended magazines only serve one purpose – to fire more bullets faster. They have no place in the District of Columbia,” said Councilmember Charles Allen. “Passing a ‘red flag’ law will also give our law enforcement a new tool to partner with the courts and the community to step in when the warning signs are there that someone is going to use a gun to hurt District residents. These laws have been particularly helpful in other states for our neighbors experiencing domestic violence.”
The bill proposes changing the penalty for anyone possessing a magazine that holds more than 10 bullets from one year to three years’ jail time, and adds bump stocks to the list of banned gun modifications. Shooters have used high-capacity magazines in numerous shootings in the District, including the murder of 10-year-old Makiyah Wilson. A bump stock is an enhancement that creates a higher rate of fire and has been found on firearms used in several mass shootings across the country, most recently in the horrific Las Vegas shooting just last year.
The “red flag” provisions are modeled on similar laws in 13 states. The bill creates a process where law enforcement or an individual’s household members can petition a court directly for an “extreme risk protection order” that allows law enforcement to remove firearms and ammunition from the individual’s possession if the court finds a significant danger of bodily injury to the individual or others.
The bill includes an immunity clause that would prevent law enforcement or prosecutors from pursuing criminal charges for certain gun possession crimes when removing a firearm or ammunition under court order – a critical provision to ensure residents feel safe coming forward. A study of Connecticut’s red flag law – the nation’s first – estimated that one suicide has been prevented for every 10 – 20 firearms recovered.
Finally, the bill creates a rigorous new judicial review process for individuals applying to register a firearm who have been voluntarily or involuntarily committed for mental health reasons in the last five years.
Taken together, the bill’s components complement the Committee’s overall approach to reducing gun violence in the District: prevent violence proactively by supporting initiatives such as the NEAR Act and Office of the Attorney General’s work to implement violence interruption strategies; and maintain strong, common sense gun control laws.