By Jean Forman, RN
Chair, Government Affairs Commission
and Diane McLaughlin, RN
Government Affairs Commissioner
(Editor’s Note: The following is the recommendation of the members of the Government Affairs Commission on a proposal that has not been adopted by the MNA Board or Membership.)
The MNA Convention is coming up quickly, October 6-8 in Minneapolis. We have so much important work to accomplish! We are writing as elected members of the Commission on Governmental Affairs (GAC) to gain your support for an important addition to MNA’s legislative platform regarding gun violence prevention and protection.
The impact of gun violence – either by suicide or against others – is costly in regards to lives altered or lost, to public health and safety, and to community well-being. In addition to GAC’s current platform that we will review at convention, the full GAC is proposing this important addition: support for legislation that would create gun violence protection orders commonly known as “Red Flag Laws.” These orders allow family and law enforcement to petition a civil court for an order that temporarily removes guns from a high-risk situation through due process. This would not be based merely on psychological diagnosis, mental illness, or substance abuse (to prevent further stigmatizing of the mental health population) but rather through due process.
Much in the same way that nurses participate in safety in the hospital with the “pause for a cause” or the “stop the line,” Red Flag Laws can save lives by creating a way for family members and law enforcement to act before warning signs escalate into tragedies. Red Flag Laws have robust due process protections. Final orders—which generally last for up to one year – can only be issued after notice and a hearing where the person would have an opportunity to respond to evidence that they are at risk of harming themselves or others. A temporary order, which typically last 14 to 21 days, can be issued before a full hearing is held, but only if there is clear evidence that such an order is necessary to prevent immediate danger.
Red Flag Laws also address another American gun violence epidemic – firearm suicide. Suicide accounts for nearly two-thirds of gun deaths in the United States, but reducing a suicidal person’s access to firearms can save their life. Nine out of ten suicide attempts with a gun result in death. By contrast, most suicide attempts using other means do not result in death. Access to a firearm triples the risk of death by suicide.
We hope you will join us during the GAC presentation at Convention and support adopting this important addition to our 2019 Legislative Platform.
We would like to acknowledge using information from the www.everytownresearch.org website for information that was referenced in this blog.
(MNA welcomes member opinions on organizational issues. To submit a commentary, please contact Rick Fuentes, MNA Communications Specialist at firstname.lastname@example.org)