A prosecutor revealed Monday that Indiana’s “red flag” gun law was never used against Brandon Hole before the teen legally purchased the firearms officials said he used to kill eight people at a FedEx warehouse in Indianapolis.
City police arranged a mental health evaluation and confiscated a shotgun from the teen a year ago after his mother told law enforcement officials that she feared her son would “attempt suicide by cop.” They didn’t take any other action that would prevent him from buying other weapons, however. Hole, 19, took his own life after the FedEx shootings.
Indiana is one of several states with “red flag” laws designed to get guns out of the hands of people deemed to be a danger to themselves or others.
But Marion County Prosecutor Ryan Mears said at a news conference that authorities didn’t seek a red-flag hearing because they didn’t have enough time to prove Hole was a danger. Under the state law, officials have only 48 hours to file an affidavit in a case and just two weeks to prove their position.
Officials also feared at the time that an adverse ruling could have returned the confiscated shotgun to the teen, Mears said.
“This individual was taken and treated by medical professionals, and he was cut loose” and was not even prescribed any medication, Mears said. “The risk is if we move forward with that [red flag] process and lose, we have to give that firearm back to that person. That’s not something we were willing to do.”
Mears also noted that’s it’s not specifically stated in the law that a decision against a gun owner means that individual cannot later purchase another weapon.
The confiscated shotgun was never returned to Hole. But he purchased two AR-15-style rifles — an HM Defense HM15F in July and a Ruger AR-556 last September, according to police, The Indianapolis Star reported. A Ruger AR-556 was used last month in the fatal mass shooting of 10 people at a Colorado supermarket.
Mears said he has complained about problems with the red-flag law in the past and had already talked to legislators about lengthening the two-week deadline for a hearing.
“I think people hear ‘red flag’ and they think it’s the panacea to all these issues. It’s not,” he said at the news conference.
The prosecutor’s office has filed eight red-flag petitions this year. All are still awaiting rulings from a judge, Mears said.
Check out more of Mears’ comments in clips from the news conference in the video above and here:
Also on HuffPost
This article originally appeared on HuffPost and has been updated.