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Red flag law proposals raise stakes in gun reform debate

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Red flag law proposals raise stakes in gun reform debate

The latest debate on gun control has raised red flags on both sides of the political aisle.

Late Tuesday evening, the House Judiciary Committee passed three bills aimed at quelling the epidemic of gun violence in the United States. Among the bills was a national version of a mandate of extreme risk protection orders (ERPOs), which already is being used in 13 states.

Also known as “red flag” laws, ERPOs allow local authorities or family members to take away weapons, through a court order, from any individual who is a potential threat toward themselves or others. While the law was passed by Congress, it will likely stall on the Senate floor.

The proposals have ignited a debate about whether red flags laws are effective.

“ERPOs are an incredibly valuable tool for keeping guns out of the hands of people intent on causing harm,” said Kristen Ellingboe, who is with the Alliance for Gun Responsibility, which supports red flag laws, to Fox News. “They are effective in preventing mass shootings and suicide, in particular.”

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Others warn that a lack of data does little to help prove that red flag laws have been effective in the 13 states that have passed them.

“It’s hard to judge which way the numbers really are going,” said one official within the National Rifle Association (NRA). “If the trend already shows a decline in these states before the laws were put in place, is it actually because of red flag laws or is it because the trends were already there?”

IMay 23, 2018: Seattle Police Crisis Response Team Sgt. Eric Pisconski displays guns seized from people deemed to be a danger to themselves or others. Since the Feb. 14, 2018 mass shooting at a Florida high school, states have seen a surge of interest in laws intended to make it easier to disarm people who show signs of being violent or suicidal. Washington voters approved such a law overwhelmingly in 2016. (Greg Gilbert/The Seattle Times via AP)

IMay 23, 2018: Seattle Police Crisis Response Team Sgt. Eric Pisconski displays guns seized from people deemed to be a danger to themselves or others. Since the Feb. 14, 2018 mass shooting at a Florida high school, states have seen a surge of interest in laws intended to make it easier to disarm people who show signs of being violent or suicidal. Washington voters approved such a law overwhelmingly in 2016. (Greg Gilbert/The Seattle Times via AP)

The White House is even considering a proposal recently presented by a longtime friend of President Trump — former NBC chairman Bob Wright — who suggested that a new research arm called the Health Advanced Research Projects Agency (HARPA) be developed to tackle health issues and problems in the same way that the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) does for the military issues.

Included in Wright’s proposal was a program dubbed SAFEHOME, an acronym for Stopping Aberrant Fatal Events by Helping Overcome Mental Extremes, which would look into technology–including smartphones, watches and health trackers–to help detect when mentally ill people are about to turn violent.

While the technology has not been developed as of yet, the mere mention of the possibility of using people’s devices to monitor their potential for violence has left many troubled by the prospects.

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“I would love if some new technology suddenly came along that would help us identify violent risk, but there’s so many things about this idea of predicting violence that doesn’t make sense,” said Marisa Randazzo, former chief research psychologist for the U.S. Secret Service, to The Washington Post, noting not only concerns about civil liberty, but also about the potential for false positives.

Even without the use of technology, Ellingboe said that it can be difficult to collect data on the exact number of gun tragedies that are prevented, but that estimates suggest for every 10 to 12 firearms secured with a red flag law, one suicide is prevented.

“In King County alone, at least 200 firearms were secured through the ERPO process in 2018, so the impact is substantial,” she said.

A pair of recent studies in Indiana and Connecticut, respectively, suggest that suicides have gone down after those states’ red flag laws were enacted.

Other NRA officials also cited a 2016 study that detailed the circumstances behind the use of red flag laws in Connecticut, saying that there are some concerns with the findings–mainly the low number of people who actually received mental health treatment after their weapons were seized as a result of that state’s red flag law.

“Among the many failures of Connecticut’s red flag law, it doesn’t provide comprehensive and compassionate treatment to those suffering from a mental health crisis,” NRA spokesperson Catherine Mortensen said in a statement to Fox News. “In fact, less than one-third of those impacted by red flag received mental health treatment after their firearms were seized.

“This law strips law-abiding citizens of their Second Amendment rights without due process. We need meaningful approaches to reducing violence that includes fixing our broken mental health system while keeping our freedoms intact. This law accomplishes neither of those goals.”

But Ellingboe, of the Alliance for Gun Responsibility, said that there’s sufficient evidence that the laws are effective.

“Just last week, an ERPO was used to secure 146 guns from a Maryland man who threatened a workplace shooting,” she said. “Last year, Vermont’s law helped thwart a planned school shooting. And earlier this summer, Oregon authorities issued an ERPO against a man who threatened protesters.”

Since August, the push for red flag laws has been gaining momentum, especially since Trump has thrown his support behind them.

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“I support strong, meaningful background checks where people who are insane, mentally ill — where people like that should not have guns,” Trump said during an August rally in New Hampshire. “It’s not the gun that pulls the trigger. It’s the person that pulls the trigger.”

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Trump rips New York Times over Kavanaugh piece, calls for resignation of anyone involved in ‘SMEAR story’

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Trump rips New York Times over Kavanaugh piece, calls for resignation of anyone involved in 'SMEAR story'

President Trump blasted The New York Times over its supposed bombshell report on Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, calling on “everybody” involved in the “smear” to resign.

“I call for the Resignation of everybody at The New York Times involved in the Kavanaugh SMEAR story, and while you’re at it, the Russian Witch Hunt Hoax, which is just as phony!” Trump tweeted Monday evening.

“They’ve taken the Old Grey Lady and broken her down, destroyed her virtue and ruined her reputation… She can never recover, and will never return to Greatness, under current Management. The Times is DEAD, long live The New York Times!”

NEW YORK TIMES CRITICIZED FROM BOTH SIDES OVER NOW-REVISED KAVANAUGH ALLEGATIONS

Late Sunday, The New York Times walked back an explosive report about a resurfaced allegation of sexual assault by Kavanaugh from his college days. The piece by Robin Pogrebin and Kate Kelly, adapted from their forthcoming book, alleged there was corroboration of an incident in which Kavanaugh, as a college student at Yale, exposed himself to a female classmate at a party.

However, The Federalist’s Mollie Hemingway — who reviewed an advance copy of the book – flagged an omission and the paper eventually revised the controversial story after being lampooned on social media over the gaffe.

The update included the significant detail that several friends of the alleged victim said she did not recall the purported sexual assault. The newspaper also stated for the first time that the alleged victim refused to be interviewed, and has made no other comment about the episode.

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Trump was asked about whether anyone from The Times should be “fired” over the controversy. He called it a “fair” question but didn’t directly give an answer.

“I think The New York Times made another terrible mistake,” Trump said. “It’s a shame that a thing like that could happen… They used to have a thing called fact-checking. They don’t have fact-checking anymore.”

Fox News’ Brian Flood and Gregg Re contributed to this report.

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With New Mexico rally, Trump seeks to flip state won by Clinton in 2016

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With New Mexico rally, Trump seeks to flip state won by Clinton in 2016

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Donald Trump will hold one of his signature rallies on Monday night in New Mexico, a longtime Democratic stronghold his campaign has added to the list of states it hopes to win in the November 2020 election.

FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump holds a campaign rally in Fayetteville, North Carolina, U.S., September 9, 2019. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque/File Photo

The last time New Mexico supported a Republican in a presidential race was 2004. Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton beat Trump there by 8 percentage points three years ago.

Trump’s campaign sees an opening in the state with Latinos, who it believes will swing his way despite tough immigration policies, including a crackdown on migrants from Central America and a push to build a wall along the U.S. border with Mexico.

Democrats have criticized those efforts. But a Trump campaign aide said the Republican president could win over Latinos who came to the United States legally and believe others should, too.

“Big crowd expected in New Mexico tonight, where we will WIN. Your Border Wall is getting stronger each and every day — see you in a few hours!” Trump tweeted ahead of his trip.

The campaign also views Trump’s support for the fossil fuel industry as a plus in the state, which is rich in oil and natural gas, said the campaign aide, who declined to be named. Trump is likely to discuss energy on Monday night.

Trump won the White House in 2016 with electoral votes from traditional Republican-leaning states and some surprise Democratic-leaning ones.

The Trump campaign says it wants New Mexico’s five electoral votes to augment the 306 electoral votes the president received in his first election, not create a separate path for victory. A candidate must get 270 electoral votes nationally to win.

Democrats, who did well in New Mexico during the 2018 mid-term elections, are skeptical.

“Last cycle, Democrats crushed Republicans in New Mexico because voters are fed up with President Trump’s toxic healthcare agenda and broken promises,” said David Bergstein, a communications director for the Democratic National Committee focused on battleground states.

“We take nothing for granted, but this GOP strategy looks like they’re concerned about a realistic pathway to 270 electoral votes,” he added.

Trump won electoral-vote-rich swing states such as Ohio and Florida in 2016, while also picking up Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania from Democrats.

The campaign says it is eyeing more pickups in 2020, including Colorado, New Hampshire, Minnesota and Nevada.

Reporting by Jeff Mason; Editing by Colleen Jenkins and Tom Brown

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California adds Iowa to ‘travel ban’ over refusal to fund gender transitions

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California adds Iowa to 'travel ban' over refusal to fund gender transitions

California announced Monday that it has added Iowa to the list of states on its ever-expanding “travel ban” list because of that state’s new prohibition against funding gender-transition surgeries under Medicaid.

The announcement by state Attorney General Xavier Becerra means that as of Oct. 4, California will no longer offer taxpayer-funded trips to Iowa for any public employee or student at a state-run university.

Becerra’s authority came from a 2016 California law signed by then-Gov. Jerry Brown that bars state-funded travel to other states that undercut LGBT rights. The list already included Alabama, Kentucky, North Carolina, Texas, Oklahoma and Mississippi.

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Conservatives have called the law ineffective, inconveniencing, possibly unconstitutional and hypocritical. The state’s sports teams have turned to private funding to get around the restrictions, according to The Los Angeles Times.

A homeless woman smokes as she waits for city crews to clean the area near Los Angeles City Hall Monday, July 1, 2019. California is overrun with homeless individuals. (AP Photo/Richard Vogel)

A homeless woman smokes as she waits for city crews to clean the area near Los Angeles City Hall Monday, July 1, 2019. California is overrun with homeless individuals. (AP Photo/Richard Vogel)

“The Iowa Legislature has reversed course on what was settled law under the Iowa Civil Rights Act, repealing protections for those seeking gender-affirming health care,” Becerra said in a statement. “California has taken an unambiguous stand against discrimination and government actions that would enable it.”

The brouhaha began after the Iowa Supreme Court ruled in March that taxpayers could be forced to pay for gender reassignment surgery. Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds signed a law effectively overriding that ruling two months later.

At the federal level, the Trump administration has disputed the idea that sex-based discrimination prohibitions under law include protections for gender identity. The Health and Human Services Department, in May, angered progressive advocates with rules that both allowed doctors not to perform certain operations and stated that “gender identity” was not protected under sex discrimination law in health care.

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Fox News’ Sam Dorman contributed to this report.

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