Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill met with President Donald Trump to discuss school safety and gun reform on Wednesday, the same day he announced a public safety campaign to remind Hoosier law enforcement of a law enabling them to seize firearms from "dangerous" individuals.
Hill visited the White House to discuss school safety and stronger firearm laws with Trump, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi. The meeting came one week after the deadly shooting at a Florida High School and one day after Hill sent out a public safety advisory about Indiana's “Red Flag Law,” Indiana Code section 35-47-14-6(b).
The statute allows law enforcement to take possession of firearms, pending formal hearings, from people who are found to be statutorily “dangerous." Indiana is one of only five states with similar laws in place.
“Like all Americans, I was sickened by the horrifying news last week out of Parkland, Florida,” Hill said in a statement Wednesday, one week after the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. “Tragedies like this one are staining our nation. As we lift up our voices in prayer for the victims and their families, we must renew our commitment to taking concrete actions to stop gun violence in our country.”
Hill’s public safety advisory is being sent to Indiana prosecutors and law enforcement officials to raise awareness of the law, enacted in 2005 after the 2004 shooting death of Indianapolis police officer Jake Laird. When a mentally ill man opened random fire in an Indianapolis neighborhood, Laird was dispatched to the scene and was fatally shot by the suspect, who also wounded four other officers.
The shooter, Kenneth Anderson, 33 at the time, was shot and killed by Indianapolis Metropolitan Police officers. Anderson previously had been hospitalized on an emergency detention, during which IMPD had confiscated his guns. However, before passage of the “Red Flag” law, they had no way to legally retain Anderson’s guns when he was released and asked for their return.
The constitutionality of I.C. 35-47-14-6(b) was upheld by a divided Indiana Court of Appeals panel in a 2013 case, Robert E. Redington v. State of Indiana, 53A01-1210-CR-461. Redington drew the attention of Bloomington authorities when he was found across the street from Kilroy’s Sports Bar, looking at the location where missing Indiana University student Lauren Spierer was last seen through a range-finder. Redington told authorities he could see spirits, had once meet Spierer at a gun range, and was investigating her disappearance.
Detectives took Redington to the IU Health Center in Bloomington, where a doctor said he suffered from a personality disorder known as schizotypal and possibly from a paranoid or delusional disorder, as well. Redington had also been removed from Kilroy’s on multiple occasions and had been asked to leave various churches.
Police determined Redington was dangerous pursuant to I.C. 35-47-14-1(a)(2)(B), meaning he presented a possible risk of injury to himself or others and was reasonably believed to have a “propensity for violent or emotionally unstable conduct.” Officers, thus, seized 51 guns and ammunition from Reddington’s home, a decision Indiana Court of Appeals judges Elaine Brown and Cale Bradford upheld in 2013. Judge Patricia Riley dissented, finding the state failed to prove Redington presented “an imminent risk of personal injury,” as is required under I.C. 35-47-14-1(a)(1).
The Court of Appeals’ August 2013 ruling was one of first impression. The Indiana Supreme Court let that ruling stand when it denied transfer to Redington’s case the following November. Despite that, Hill said the law remains little-known throughout the state.
“Indiana’s ‘Red Flag Law’ is a common-sense measure that in no way inhibits the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens,” Hill said. “This useful provision is not as well-known, even among law enforcement, as one might expect. That’s why this week we are distributing a public safety advisory raising awareness of the law and urging police and prosecutors to make full use of it as we work together to protect all Hoosiers.”
Hill's office said he will discuss his conversations with Trump, Sessions and Bondi on national news later today, including at 4:05 p.m. on Fox Business News' "After the Bell" and at 7:05 p.m. on CNN's "Erin Burnett OutFront."
"I shared with the President today the same themes I have shared with Hoosiers at home," Hill said in a Wednesday statement. "We must strengthen school security through the effective use of technology and personnel. We must keep guns from dangerous people through more deliberate application of Indiana's Red Flag Law. And we must double down on gun crimes by further enhancing penalties for offenses committed with guns beyond what current law provides."