Just a few hours after President Donald Trump called for Congress to implement federal “red flag” laws and stronger background checks following two mass shootings over the weekend, U.S. Rep. Jeff Duncan said he wouldn’t support such an effort.
“We must make sure that those judged to pose a grave risk to public safety do not have access to firearms, and that if they do, those firearms can be taken through rapid due process,” Trump said Monday morning. “That is why I have called for red flag laws.”
States with such a law on their books allow family members or police to ask courts for the temporary removal of firearms from a person who poses a danger to themselves or others.
In Greenwood, Duncan said he parted with Trump and U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., in backing such legislation. He attended a ribbon cutting for a new Commercial Bank branch along Bypass 72 and then met privately with members of the Greenwood SC Chamber of Commerce at a luncheon.
“I’ve been very clear about that. It goes back to the presumption of innocence, and we need to make sure we don’t violate individuals’ Constitutional rights as we try to work on any sort of legislation that deals with the Second Amendment,” Duncan said. “And I disagree with the president, who talked about the same thing.”
In February, he voted against House Resolution 8, the “Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2019,” which was approved 240-190 but blocked in the Senate by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.
Duncan called the measure a “reckless gun-grabbing effort,” faulting Democrats for loading it up with provisions that would strip due process.
“You’re innocent until you’re proven guilty, and the presumption of innocence factored into that” vote, Duncan said Monday.
“If House Democrats’ true intent with this bill was to keep people safe while protecting liberty, then they would have included REAL solutions in the bill, not barriers that infringe on 2nd Amendment rights. But their intent isn’t to solve the very complex and heartbreaking problems before us — it is to systematically take your firearms,” Duncan wrote on his Facebook page in February. “I won’t stand for it, and I will continue to fight for our Constitution. Protecting the rights of Americans, including the right to keep and bear arms, is critical to the preservation of liberty.”
Graham and U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., said Monday they’ll introduce a bipartisan measure urging states to adopt their own red flag laws.
Graham, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, held a hearing in March to discuss statewide implementation of such laws.
“While Republicans and Democrats — on this Committee and across America — can disagree on the Second Amendment, what’s clear to me is that recent tragedies in the United States are examples of a common problem, a failure to identify and lessen risk from individuals who may be showing signs of distress and the willingness to hurt themselves or others,” he said in the spring.
Duncan said he was heartbroken at the shootings in El Paso and Dayton, Ohio.
“It’s a sad day in America when you see these horrendous acts of violence. You’ve seen a lot of political on both sides of the issue talking about gun control or violent video games, and everybody’s looking for a reason to try and make sense of it all,” he said. “The people responsible for the shootings were the shooters themselves. I don’t believe you can blame anyone but them.”
On Twitter, U.S. Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., was direct in his appeal for and to divisiveness in America.
“White nationalism is domestic terrorism and has no place in America. It is fundamentally against all that we have worked for, antithetical to the American creed and is a stain on our national identity,” he said. “We must identify and root out this evil — period. Anything less is an injustice. We are the UNITED States of American and we must be united not only in name, but in resolve.”
In his remarks to the nation, Trump said Monday he directed the U.S. Department of Justice to coordinate with other agencies and social media companies to “develop tools that can detect mass shooters before they strike.”
The 3rd District Republican said he wants to see streamlined communication between state and federal authorities to weed out planned mass murders before they can happen.
“One thing I agreed with the Obama White House on is modernizing the system so that the FBI has the most readily available data for background checks,” Duncan said. “We’re in the 21st century. We have technology available that ought to be used to expedite the background check system, even for the local firearm dealer who’s trying to run a check on somebody trying to legally purchase a firearm. Smarter technology can intervene there.”
Duncan, long a proponent of voting on so-called “clean bills,” didn’t say Monday whether he’d back a measure tightening federal background checks.
“It would depend on what the background checks looked like. There’s a lot of rhetoric out there about universal background checks, and nothing in those would have stopped Las Vegas, would have stopped Orlando, would have stopped Parkland, would have stopped either of these tragedies,” Duncan said. “We need to make sure that as we approach this, we’re actually trying to solve the problem.”