If GOP congressional candidate Troy Balderson had his way, not even killers who are as disturbed and dangerous as the Sandy Hook mass shooter could have their guns taken away.
Troy Balderson, the Republican Party’s congressional candidate in Ohio’s 8th congressional district, does not believe people who are a threat to others should be prevented from obtaining firearms.
Balderson has publicly expressed his opposition to red flag laws, which allow firearms to be temporarily confiscated from individuals deemed to be a threat to themselves or others.
“I would not take anybody’s guns,” Balderson told the Columbus Dispatch — even if a court found it was truly dangerous for that person to possess a gun.
Red flag laws can be used to stop would-be mass shooters who show clear signs of being violently disturbed.
The shooter at Sandy Hook Elementary, who murdered 27 people, including 20 children between the ages of 6 and 7, had such severe untreated mental illness that medical experts at Yale University warned his family about it.
And California passed its red flag law because the family of Elliot Rodger, who went on a misogynistic murder spree in Santa Barbara, knew something was wrong with him and begged law enforcement to help, but to no avail.
A red flag law is currently under consideration by the Ohio legislature, and has the support of John Kasich, the state’s Republican governor.
Red flag laws often have bipartisan support — but not from Balderson.
He insists that “we can’t go confiscate” weapons, even from people who are as severely, violently disturbed as the man who murdered 20 grade schoolers at Sandy Hook.
Red flag laws vary in the states that have passed them, but they usually allow family members, friends, or law enforcement officers to ask a judge to issue a “gun violence restraining order” against someone who may be dangerous. If the judge agrees, that person’s guns can be temporarily confiscated, and the order can be extended later if the situation warrants it.
Only five states had red flag laws before the Parkland shooting this year. But the outrage over that massacre has inspired dozens of additional states to consider red flaw laws, and four to pass them into law so far.
Balderson’s Democratic opponent, Danny O’Connor, told the Columbus Dispatch that he supports the red flag legislation in Ohio. He said that as someone who grew up hunting in rural western Ohio, he believes in a “common sense” approach to gun legislation.
O’Connor pointed out that assault rifles have no role in hunting and sport shooting. He also said that firearms should be denied to people convicted of domestic violence and people on the official no-fly list.
While Balderson has backed arming school teachers, O’Connor said, “I don’t want to see our teachers armed with handguns. I want to see them armed with the best tools, with books, with the equipment they need to ensure our kids have a future.”
On his campaign website, Balderson describes himself as having “consistently” received “the highest ratings from the NRA.”
The NRA has steadfastly opposed widely popular gun safety initiatives, even in the wake of mass shootings like Sandy Hook and Parkland.
The gun safety group Moms Demand Action has endorsed O’Connor for his pro-safety stance on firearms, and describes him as a “Gun Sense Candidate.”
But if Balderson is able to win, the NRA will have yet another vote in Congress to help them arm mass shooters and refuse to take even moderate actions to save lives.