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Gun Safety Advocates Pushing For Pennsylvania To Become 20th State With Red Flag Laws

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- Activists in Pennsylvania are pushing for new laws that would allow judges to confiscate guns from dangerous people. They're known as "red flag laws."

Nineteen states have red flag laws. Gun safety advocates want Pennsylvania to be the 20th.

"It's time for Pennsylvania to get on board," CeaseFirePA Southeast Coordinator Carol Lastowka said.

Activists, gun violence survivors and local legislators are urging state lawmakers to schedule a hearing on red flag laws.

"This is a preventive step we must take in order to protect someone experiencing mental health issues from attaining a firearm and potentially hurting themselves and others," state Sen. Tim Kearney said.

Red flag laws vary by state, but generally, they allow police, family members and others to ask a judge to temporarily take away someone's firearms if that person shows signs of turning violent.

Petitioners must present evidence to the court on why the gun owner poses a threat.

Kim Stolfer is the president of the political action committee Firearms Owners Against Crimes.

"Red flag laws are a violation of the 2nd Amendment rights and the property rights of the average citizen," Stolfer said.

The debate continues on whether red flag laws are effective at reducing violent crime.

Last month, President Joe Biden signed into law a bipartisan gun bill that includes $750 million in funding to help states implement red flag laws and other violence prevention programs.

But Republican legislative leaders don't seem to be swayed by the prospect of new federal money.

CBS3 reached out to the Senate Republican Caucus to see if they'd be willing to pass red flag laws.

In a statement, a spokesperson said "Pennsylvania doesn't have a problem with not enough laws in the books, but rather, has a problem with local leaders and prosecutors not enforcing the laws the state already has."

New Jersey and Delaware are among the 19 states that have red flag laws.

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