TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — Each new mass shooting leads to questions of whether the murders could be prevented. There are things that could help but most require getting a judge involved.
There has been a lot of discussion about getting guns away from people before they hurt someone but under the law that's not so easy.
Often after a shooting there are reports that family and maybe others thought the shooter was odd, aggressive and dangerous. Maybe they knew that person had a gun.
There is a way to seize someone’s guns but because American law defines gun ownership as a right, a judge has to rule on whether taking a gun is justified.
Attorney Louis Fidel says one legal tool is called an Order of Protection—the same sort of order often used to protect people in a domestic violence case.
“The legal standard is if the judge believes the person poses a credible threat, either to the plaintiff in the order of protection the person applying for it, or one of the other people who is protected under the order protection, so credible threat.”
But before a judge can order someone to turn over a legal firearm or force someone into a mental health assessment the judge will be looking for more than a feeling someone is dangerous.
“Evidence is really the answer. The more they can turn to specific acts, or documentation of specific acts, and be able to speak with specificity that would be what you need to clear that bar.”
Fidel says judges normally treat orders of protection as urgent but it’s important to know how to request one. You can find an online guide for Pima County's Orders of Protection at their website.
Craig Smith is a reporter for KGUN 9. With more than 30 years of reporting in cities like Tampa, Houston and Austin, Craig has covered more than 40 Space Shuttle launches and covered historic hurricanes like Katrina, Ivan, Andrew and Hugo. Share your story ideas and important issues with Craig by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by connecting on Facebook and Twitter.