Gov. Doug Ducey has reversed his position on so-called “red flag laws” that have been a core piece of his public safety agenda since 2018, telling a crowd in Lake Havasu City on Thursday that such laws won’t be enacted while he is governor.
“As long as I am governor, there will be no red flag law in the State of Arizona,” he said in a speech in deep-red Mohave County.
But a spokesman for Ducey said the governor isn’t changing his position at all.
Ducey has been touring Arizona to bring his state of the state address to voters in different parts of the Grand Canyon State. His comments on red flag laws came at a speech at the London Bridge Resort in Lake Havasu City.
Video of Ducey’s comments were posted on Facebook by Hildy Angius, a Republican member of the Mohave County Board of Supervisors.
Red flag laws are gun control laws that allow police or family members to ask a judge to temporarily remove firearms from a person who presents a danger to themselves or others.
Patrick Ptak, a spokesman for Ducey, told Arizona Mirror after this story was initially published that it is “flat wrong” to say Ducey has reversed his stance.
“The governor hasn’t changed his position on anything,” he said.
Ptak said red flag laws and Ducey’s STOP orders, for Severe Threat Order of Protection, are not the same. Although both would allow family and police to go to court to remove a person’s guns, Ptak said the governor believes his plan “is different than and far superior to” red flag laws because it includes more due process. He said those due process provisions, including requiring “clear and convincing evidence” and making it a felony to file a false petition to remove a person’s guns, led the National Rifle Association to endorse STOP orders.
In his 2018 school safety plan, introduced in the wake of the devastating shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., Ducey called for the STOP orders.
The legislature killed the proposal that year, even after it was stripped of key provisions amid GOP criticism. And even though he renewed his push for STOP orders in his 2019 state of the state address, the efforts never materialized.
In a January interview, Ducey told Arizona Mirror that STOP orders would continue to be a component of his efforts to make schools safer and enhance public health.
Ducey’s reversal on red flag laws comes a few weeks after he was heckled at the Arizona Republican Party’s annual meeting by protesters chanting “No Red Flag.” Opponents of the laws view them as an infringement on the Second Amendment.
***UPDATE: This story has been updated to include comments from Patrick Ptak, a spokesman for the governor, and more details about the 2018 legislation and Ducey’s subsequent support for STOP orders and red flag laws in 2019.