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NC Gov. Cooper pushes for stronger gun safety reform

RALEIGH, N.C. — North Carolina Gov. Cooper is calling for stronger gun laws, so they don’t get into the wrong hands.

“I’ve proposed a red flag law that lets judges take guns away from violent criminals and people who are severely mentally ill,” Cooper said in a video released Wednesday. “Pass it and I’ll sign it.”

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Channel 9′s DaShawn Brown spoke with an expert who said that red flag laws are one step we can take to prevent tragedies like the one in Uvalde, Texas, from happening again.

Cooper laid out his list of action steps, including gun violence restraining orders that are also called red flag laws.

“I’m angry and I know we all are, yet again,” Cooper said in the video.

(Watch Gov. Cooper’s message below)

The laws serve as an extreme risk protection order, removing guns from someone who could pose a risk to themselves or someone else.

The order would be enacted after due process and usually for up to one year.

Family members and law enforcement are the ones who petition the courts for the order in many cases.

“It’s not criminalizing. It’s not permanent,” said Jeffrey Swanson, professor at Duke Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences.

Swanson is among the leading researchers for issues, such as gun violence and suicide. He’s also a consultant for federal and state policymakers.

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“You think of it as a public health measure to separate someone from lethal means at a time when they pose a risk,” Swanson said. “People say, ‘What’s the one thing we should do to fix gun violence?’ There is no one thing. It’s not a one-thing problem. It’s a whole puzzle where you do a lot of things.”

There are 19 states and Washington, D.C. with red flag laws in the country.

The Carolinas are not among them.

In 2018, Florida adopted the law after a gunman killed 17 students at a Parkland high school.

“This could be, ‘We’re worried about Granddad. He’s bereaved and all by himself. He’s depressed and drinking heavily, and he has all these shotguns. And he doesn’t want to give them up,’” Swanson said. “If you’re in a state that doesn’t have a law like this, the police will say, ‘We’ll call you back when granddad does something.’”

Swanson said it can be hard to quantify how often a law like this could prevent a mass shooting.

However, researchers in California credit red flag laws there for stopping 30 potential threats.

(Watch the video below: Mass shooting at Texas elementary school: How to help in the Carolinas)