LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – In Indiana, police can legally take away someone's guns if they appear to be a danger to themselves or others.
And now Kentucky is considering a similar red flag law.
Indiana's law, called the Jake Laird Act, was passed in 2005.
"It gives police a chance to take weapons away from people they consider particularly dangerous,” said Paul Helmke, director of the Civic Leaders Center at Indiana University and former president of the Washington, D.C.-based Brady Campaign to prevent violence.
At the time Indiana was only the second state in the nation to pass such a law.
It came after Indianapolis Police Officer Jake Laird was shot and killed in 2004. Indiana State Police say Kenneth Anderson went on a shooting rampage with three guns, killing his mom and Laird. Months earlier, Anderson had been released from a hospital for emergency detention, and police were required to return his weapons even though they felt he was danger to himself and others.
If Indiana had had a red flag law back then, Anderson likely would not have been able to regain his guns after being released from the hospital.
Helmke said the law also can be used in other situations.
“If their friend, their neighbor is saying some dangerous things, is acting in a dangerous way, is making threats, or is not taking their medications, is abusing alcohol or drugs, this is a way the police can be called, the police can talk to the person and the police can take the weapon away,” Helmke said.
Police do not need a warrant in Indiana. After the guns are removed, a hearing determines if and when the guns are returned.
“Hopefully that'll prevent a suicide, hopefully that'll prevent some shooting deaths, hopefully it'll stop mass public shootings,” Helmke said.
Kentucky is trying to pass a similar red flag law for the next legislative session. Sen. Morgan McGarvey, D-Louisville, is co-sponsoring the bill.
“It's so important for people to have tools they can use that are effective and can keep people safe,” McGarvey said.
The Senate Judiciary Committee will discuss the legislation Friday. Lawmakers are still working on the language, but McGarvey said that unlike Indiana, Kentucky police will have to go through the courts first, before they can take someone's guns.
“Even if this law just saves a couple of lives, then it's worthwhile,” McGarvey said.
Although Republicans control both chambers in the state legislature, McGarvey said he was optimistic that a red flag law will be adopted next year.
Helmke said Indiana’s law probably isn't used as often as it should be.
According to the Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law, since 2005, guns have been seized from 395 people in Indiana, for a total of 1,079 guns. The study's authors believe one life was saved for every 10 guns that were removed.
Copyright 2019 WDRB News. All rights reserved.