Local Harvard student helps to push for 'red flag' gun safety bill

A Harvard University student's friend's suicide has led legislators to push for a 'red flag' gun safety bill.

Reed Shafer-Ray, a senior at Harvard, lost a family friend to a suicide with a gun in August of 2016.

"It was absolutely tragic," Shafer-Ray said. "Anyone who knew him knew he was going through tough times, knew he'd been depressed for years. No one saw it as a surprise when he ultimately committed suicide."

After losing his friend, Shafer-Ray started to push for change.

Shafer-Ray shared an idea with a local state representative, and action on the idea quickly began.

"I didn't think that something like this could get passed so quickly," Shafer-Ray said.

His idea stemmed from his friend Joseph's family, who had done everything they could to prevent a local gun store from selling guns to Joseph before his suicide.

There is nothing written in the law to stop the sales, because the 24-year-old passed a background check and didn't have a record.

The bill would allow firearms to be taken from people who show unstable or potentially dangerous behavior.

“Heartbreaking," Shafer-Ray said. "Absolutely heartbreaking, and it made us feel like there was nothing we could’ve done."

State Rep. Marjorie Decker believes something can be done to prevent people in Massachusetts from being caught in the same situation.

The bill would allow firearms to be taken from people who show unstable or potentially dangerous behavior.

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"I've been working on it every single day, seven days a week," Decker said. "This law says at your deepest and darkest moment, we’re going to provide an avenue for your loved one or law enforcement to go to a judge to separate you from that gun."

The House will vote on the bill Wednesday.