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State Rep. Ensler brings back gun reform bill package

The legislation includes a Red Flag Law and support for community violence prevention.

Rep. Phillip Ensler speaks about gun violence prevention legislation.

In his freshman session, State Rep. Phillip Ensler, D-Montgomery,  brought forward a package of gun reform bills.

Most of those bills failed to make it through the Republican-controlled legislature, although at least one bill had some bipartisan support, and Ensler did succeed in securing funding for conflict resolution in Montgomery Public Schools.

Now with a year under his belt, Ensler has pre-filed three of those bills in hopes to bring them closer to fruition.

HB36 would mirror federal law prohibiting the use of trigger activators, also known as “glock switches,” from being used to turn ordinary guns into automatic weapons.

“They’re very dangerous, they’re hard to control and fire, and people don’t have the proper training to control them—and they’re proliferating throughout state,” Ensler said. “This bill would make it a crime to possess a firearm with one of those.”

Ensler’s Republican colleague Randy Wood filed a similar bill last session, but it didn’t make it to the House floor.

HB38 would create the Community-Based Violence Prevention Program with the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs to provide grant funding to local violence prevention programs.

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HB48 would gives judges the ability to temporarily suspend a person’s right to possess a firearm as a stop-gap measure to curb gun-related crimes.

“You especially see this in domestic violence cases, someone might threaten to shoot up a workplace, a significant other or loved one,” Ensler said “This gives law enforcement a tool to temporarily address that threat.”

The bill provides two possible orders that judges can issue: an “ex parte red flag order” that prohibits the defendant from possessing a gun or purchasing ammunition while a hearing is set, and a “one year red flag protective order” that would suspend the defendant’s ability to do the same for a one-year period based on the findings of said hearing.

Red flag laws have become a popular response across the nation in response to a series of mass shootings nationwide.

While Republicans have notoriously blocked most attempts to limit gun possession in any way, Ensler said he hopes bipartisan ground can be found on these bills.

“I’ve spent a lot of time this offseason having those conversations and talking with leadership,” Ensler said. “Thats why I pre-filed these bills, to engage my colleagues and the community to give them as good of a chance to pass as possible.”

Jacob Holmes is a reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter. You can reach him at [email protected]

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