Ensler Plans To Reintroduce Multiple Bills Aimed At Gun Safety

Mocobizscene- In April, a tragic shooting occurred in Dadeville, prompting Alabama Democrats to take action against gun violence. Among those leading the charge was Rep. Phil Ensler, a Democrat from Montgomery. Despite their efforts, however, the bills they proposed to address this issue ultimately stalled in the Legislature and were not passed into law.

Now, Ensler is prepared to reintroduce several bills during the 2024 legislative session. These bills aim to prohibit trigger activators and establish red flag laws, among other provisions.

According to Alabama Daily News, Ensler expressed his concern about the tragic loss of lives due to gun violence. He emphasized that there are residents, families, and others in his district who have experienced the pain of losing loved ones to gun violence, particularly from firearms that have been modified with a Glock switch or trigger activators.

“I am constantly approached by families who have experienced immense trauma and grief due to the loss of a loved one. They earnestly implore me to take action, to make a difference. And that is exactly what these bills are doing – they are bringing about change.”

Gun violence in Alabama has seen a concerning rise over the years, with the rate of gun deaths surging by 54% from 2012 to 2021. This increase outpaces the national average of 39%. In terms of firearm fatalities, Alabama experiences a higher percentage of homicides compared to the national data. Approximately 47% of gun deaths in the state are homicides, whereas the national rate stands at 40%. Additionally, 49% of firearm deaths in Alabama are suicides, slightly lower than the national rate of 57%.

During the past legislative session, I introduced a bill that aims to establish a procedure for removing firearms from individuals who are deemed an immediate and present danger to themselves or others. This bill, often referred to as a red flag law, is currently being considered by a judge. Although the bill has not been filed yet, it shares many similarities with the one I previously introduced.

Red flag laws spark intense debate among political parties, with Republicans often arguing that these laws infringe upon due process and violate the Second Amendment. Representative Ron Bolton, a member of the Republican Party from Northport, aligns himself with those who hold this viewpoint.

In an interview with ADN on Monday, Bolton expressed his disapproval of red flag laws, citing his belief in the importance of due process. He voiced concerns about the potential misuse of these laws as a means to target individuals out of personal vendettas.

“I have serious concerns about the red flag law as there are numerous pitfalls associated with its implementation. I must admit that I am not a supporter or a fan of any state’s current red flag laws.”

Rep. Jerry Starnes of Prattville, an Alabama Republican, expressed his openness to the idea of the process, as long as it was conducted thoroughly and by the appropriate authority.

Starnes expressed his support for a probate judge specifically dealing with mental health cases related to gun issues. He believes that many of the problems surrounding guns can be attributed to mental health and therefore, having a dedicated judge who is well-versed in this area would be beneficial.

Another bill proposed by Ensler aims to ban trigger activators, which are modifications that enable semi-automatic firearms to fire multiple rounds rapidly, simulating the firing speed of fully-automatic firearms. At present, Alabama does not have any legislation prohibiting the use of these devices.

In the new version of the trigger activator ban bill, one notable change from the previous version, according to Ensler, is the shift in the consequences for first-time offenders. Instead of receiving prison time, they would now be required to perform community service.

“The change is driven by feedback from law enforcement, who have observed that many of these individuals are younger. It is important to avoid a scenario where we simply incarcerate young black men without considering the broader implications,” he stated.

“We do want to ensure that there are consequences and raise awareness about the dangers associated with these items. If you are found in possession of one, you will be held accountable.”

Bolton, who has occasionally faced criticism from his conservative colleagues, may find bipartisan support for the ban on trigger activators. He had previously endorsed a similar bill, making it likely that he would support this proposal as well.

According to Bolton, he supported that idea previously due to the ongoing gang-related issues in Birmingham.

“I have a strong following among gun enthusiasts, so I can expect to receive calls from them. However, I have already discussed this issue with them when it was last brought up. While I understand that there are some people in my state who may not be in favor of it, I have already informed my local supporters that I will likely have to lend my support to this.”

Ensler plans to propose another gun safety measure, which involves the establishment of a voluntary do-not-sell list. This list would allow residents of Alabama to request their inclusion if they choose to do so.

According to the expert, owning a firearm increases the likelihood of using it for suicide. As a result, individuals who are aware of their mental state and recognize that having a gun may pose a risk to themselves or their loved ones should consider refraining from gun ownership.

“This presents a unique opportunity for individuals to voluntarily add themselves to the do-not-sell list,” said the spokesperson.

Starnes expressed his openness to the idea of a voluntary do-not-sell list, emphasizing that it should be completely voluntary. On the contrary, Bolton criticized the effectiveness of such a list, arguing that it would have little impact since those who pose a threat would likely disregard it anyway.

According to Ensler, he collaborated with police departments, sheriff’s offices, and district attorneys while drafting his bills. He mentioned that the feedback he received from law enforcement was overwhelmingly positive.

He mentioned that the response to the trigger activators has been overwhelmingly supportive.

Law enforcement does not have the authority to prohibit or prohibit the possession or sale of these devices at the state level. Consequently, when law enforcement comes across such devices, they must pass the case on to federal prosecutors. However, due to limited resources and personnel, lower level offenses may not always be pursued.

The Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs is currently working on several bills, one of which involves establishing a violence prevention office. This office, if approved, will receive grant funding to develop conflict resolution programs specifically targeted towards troubled youth in public schools.

Bolton expressed his support for a proposal that has the potential to receive bipartisan support. He emphasized his strong backing for measures aimed at proactively addressing gun violence through conflict resolution programs for troubled youth. However, he also stressed that his support would depend on the specific details of such measures.

“I’m definitely in favor of anything like that, but I’ll need to review the specifics since it’s related to the Education Trust Fund budget,” Bolton expressed.

“I’m completely on board with the concept of keeping young people out of trouble. If we can find a justified means to do so, I have no objections to having a program like that. However, I would need to see the details before fully supporting it.”

Ensler acknowledged that he expected some opposition, but he emphasized that his bills were designed to safeguard individuals’ Second Amendment rights while also addressing the issue of gun violence in Alabama. He pointed out that Alabama had one of the highest rates of gun violence in the nation, with nearly 26 deaths per 100,000 residents in 2021.

“I understand that no single law, or even a thousand laws, can completely eliminate all instances of gun violence. However, these measures, when implemented individually, have the potential to make a meaningful impact,” he stated.

“They can collectively save lives and strongly support the Second Amendment. These measures not only assist law enforcement but, more importantly, have demonstrated effectiveness in the cities or states where they have been implemented.”

The legislative session for 2024 is set to commence in February.

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