So-called red flag laws may sound like a good idea — but good-sounding ideas don’t necessarily make good laws.
Do red flag laws trample the Fifth and 14th Amendments about due process? As with other gun-control measures, the public eagerly accepts the biased reporting and biased ballot titles about all of this — and makes snap judgments.
But, inevitably, after the initial din dies down and people learn more about the issue, the pendulum swings back toward reason.
Initially many people thought, for example, that “universal” and “enhanced” background checks for “everyone” transferring a firearm (meaning buying, selling, borrowing, lending) sounded like a great idea.
Then people learned the new law applies even to the dad who wants to lend his daughter a gun because an ex-boyfriend is stalking her.
Suddenly, “universal” background checks for “everyone” fail the commonsense test.
The Second Amendment “shall not be infringed.” The Cambridge Dictionary defines infringe as acting “in a way that is against the law or that limits someone’s rights or freedoms.”
Well, violating the Constitution is against the supreme law of the land — and these new laws obviously limit gun owners’ rights and freedoms.
The Founders could have said “shall not be prevented or prohibited.” But they chose the word infringed because they wanted a low standard to apply if and when the government attempted to violate the people’s rights to firearms and self-defense.
But those anti-gun folks posing as public safety warriors advocating for red flag laws and other restrictions seem OK with “infringing,” even to the extent that they prevent or prohibit people from exercising their Second Amendment rights, it seems to me. Many see red flag laws as one more mechanism to seize guns legitimately or illegitimately.
John R. Lott Jr., founder of the Crime Prevention Research Center (CPRC) and author of “More Guns, Less Crime,” sheds light on the negative effects of red flag laws and universal and enhanced background checks. (Full disclosure: I was fortunate to have Lott endorse my most recent book, “De-Policing America.”).
Lott recently testified about red flag laws and universal background checks before, of all places, a Utah joint House-Senate committee.
If the legislature of one of the most conservative states in the union is considering such legislation, “it raises real concerns about what is going to be happening in many other states come January,” Lott told me.
Lott brings up some of the contradictory views currently saturating Democratic politics. That would be things like allowing felons the right to vote — even from prison — while taking gun rights away from people who have broken no laws.
He brings up barriers to truth, such as a mainstream media bias against gun rights and the myriad false claims peddled by anti-self-defense, pro-gun control groups.
The following are only a few of Lott’s concerns, but they highlight the dangers of red flag laws in a legal system based on the rule of law and due process. As a CPRC Power Point presentation made clear, the process does not require that mental health professionals are involved; there are lengthy waits for court appearances; it involves predicting violent actions with firearms (e.g., the “Minority Report” movie); and it predicts future actions based on characteristics other than mental illness.
Also, why not apply red flag law confiscation to a person’s car? Why not? Because not everyone owns a gun while nearly everyone owns a car. People are ignorant about, and fear, guns — but not cars. Cars are useful and dangerous, as are guns; but people understand owning cars. They don’t understand owning guns.
Remember that in New York City in 2017, an individual driving a truck slaughtered eight people on a bike path. Also in 2017, in Virginia, a white supremacist killed one and injured 19 with his car. And in 2019, a California man ran over eight people, injuring them, all because he believed they were Muslims.
Proponents often attempt to sell red flag laws by saying they will be used infrequently and only when absolutely necessary. But couldn’t radical anti-gun politicians too easily abuse these laws?
Why wouldn’t they? They already have a track record of doing so.
The CPRC report noted that in Florida, judges issued over 1,000 gun confiscation orders in just the first nine months of the law’s existence. In Maryland, whose law went into effect a few weeks ago, over 300 people have already had their guns confiscated.
In Connecticut and Indiana, gun confiscations are increasing annually — with over 1,000 per year as of now.
Currently, in Washington State, an example of the perfect application of a red flag law has occurred. Guns were confiscated from a neo-Nazi group. Yet, even in this case, questions remain regarding due process and potential abuse.
While good people have no use for neo-Nazis — or for that matter, Antifa — this case should make us think. There are some important details to consider. Fox News Channel reported recently that “the ERPO [Extreme Risk Protection Order [i.e., red flag] filed is the first time the FBI has requested one in Washington State.”
The fact the FBI made the ERPO request in a 62-page document, for me, enhances the validity (although the dubious behavior by the FBI leadership under former President Barack Obama does muddy the water on trust issues). And if there is any group that warrants executing such an order, neo-Nazis would be it.
The Fox story provides frightening details about the group and why they shouldn’t have guns. The group, “Atomwaffen, which means ‘atomic weapon’ in German, is an extremist group that hopes to trigger a race war through murders and violence. They’ve reportedly gained inspiration from Adolf Hitler and Charles Manson— with members being charged in five murders throughout the U.S.”
Still, not every red flag law application will be so black and white; most probably won’t be.
My concern remains in two areas: one, that the state can confiscate guns from people without due process who haven’t committed a crime; and, two, that anti-gun government officials can abuse the law to advance a political agenda to thwart the Second Amendment.
That would be gun confiscation — which is now an openly stated goal of many top Democrats.
This quote from a Fox News report emphasizes my reservations, even though it is regarding such a reprehensible group. Police said, “Cole was not charged with any crimes at the time.” We don’t care about such vermin, but shouldn’t we still care about due process and the rule of law?
The opinions expressed by contributors and/or content partners are their own and do not necessarily reflect the views of LifeZette.