Second Amendment

'Red Flag' Laws Are a Scam

Seizing guns from those disputably deemed more likely than not to be a threat is a hazardous slippery slope.

Arnold Ahlert · Aug. 15, 2019

“We know of no other enumerated constitutional right whose core protection has been subjected to a freestanding ‘interest-balancing’ approach. The very enumeration of the right takes out of the hands of government — even the Third Branch of Government — the power to decide on a case-by-case basis whether the right is really worth insisting upon. A constitutional guarantee subject to future judges’ assessments of its usefulness is no constitutional guarantee at all.” —The late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia on the Second Amendment

Following the three mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, Dayton, Ohio, and Gilroy, California, Democrats are yet again exploiting tragedy to push for gun control. And this time weak-kneed Republicans, and possibly President Donald Trump, will join them in adopting a federal grant program aimed at encouraging states to embrace so-called “red flag” laws that would take guns away from people believed to be dangers to themselves or others.

Believed by whom? “State laws vary, but most stipulate that only specific people — usually family or household members — may petition a court for an extreme risk protection order,” the Associated Press reports.

Not exactly. In Colorado, which became the 15th state to adopt such a law — without a single Republican vote — family, household members, or law-enforcement officials can petition a court to have guns seized or surrendered based on a “preponderance of the evidence.” That is a civil standard whereby the individual whose guns are being seized is deemed more likely than not to be a threat.

Eagle County, Colorado, Sheriff James van Beek, who slammed the law, explains the implications. “In other words, there is just over a 50/50 chance of accuracy,” he writes, further warning that someone’s guns could be seized even without a mental-health professional making a determination of any kind. “Like the flip of a coin. Couldn’t that apply to just about anything a person does?”

It gets worse. A subsequent court hearing could extend a gun seizure for as long as 364 days. To prevent that from happening, gun owners must demonstrate the much higher standard of “clear and convincing evidence” they are not a threat.

Thus, gun owners are “guilty until proven innocent,” van Beek asserts.

Denver-based physician Brian C. Joondeph, M.D. makes it even clearer. “These laws usurp the Second Amendment’s right to bear arms, the Fourth Amendment’s protection from unreasonable searches and seizures, and the Sixth Amendment’s right of the accused to a speedy and public trial,” he states.

Moreover, unlike so many of his fellow Americans who simply want to do something that amounts to little more than virtue signaling, he sees the long-term agenda of an American Left well versed in employing incrementalist tactics to get its way. “How long will it take before states, or the federal government, if a red flag law becomes nationalized, start to view any and all Trump supporters as ‘posing a danger’ based on their skin color, gender, religion, and opposition to open borders?” he asks.

Fordham University professor Mark Naison knows the answer. “We are a country with a few million passionate white supremacists — and tens of millions of white supremacists by default,” he told CNN in 2017 following the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia.

And despite President Trump condemning that violence, the mainstream media took a single phrase from his speech — “you also had people that were very fine people, on both sides” — and used it to propagate one of the most contemptible hoaxes in modern history to paint the president and his followers as white supremacists.

A hoax it’s still pushing two years later.

The racist viewpoints of white supremacists are abhorrent. But are they sufficient, solely in and of themselves, to precipitate the confiscation of guns based on a preponderance of evidence? If so, what other political viewpoints would trigger such a law? In 2016, Bill Nye, the so-called “Science Guy,” expressed an openness to jailing people who didn’t believe in climate change.

Should so-called “science deniers” be targeted for confiscation?

Presidential candidate Corey “Spartacus” Booker doesn’t think red-flag laws go far enough. “We need far more bolder action to make our nation safe,” he asserts. “Red-flag laws, yes, they’re important, but they’re nowhere near enough to stop these rising levels of mass shootings.”

America certainly needs bolder action to make it safer. But that would require addressing the nation’s genuine problems with regard to gun violence — of all kinds, not just mass shootings. It would require addressing the reality that it is virtually a way of life in American cities like Chicago, where seven people were killed and 46 others were wounded in a single weekend, and Baltimore, where the murder rate is higher than the nations of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras — despite the fact that both cities have strict gun-control laws.

Such action might also require addressing the uncomfortable and oh-so-inconvenient correlation between gun violence and fatherlessness, courtesy of a Democrat-led “war on poverty” that eviscerated the nuclear family, or the seemingly orchestrated indifference toward the number of mass murderers on, or just coming off, psychiatric medications.

It might also require solutions based on hard evidence, such as the reality that data obtained between 1970 and 2017 revealed that red-flag laws “had no significant effect on murder, suicide, the number of people killed in mass public shootings, robbery, aggravated assault, or burglary,” or that countries such as France, Finland, Russia, and Switzerland, many of which have much stricter gun-control laws than America, have higher murder rates from mass public shootings.

Yet what America will be subjected to instead is exemplified by a quote courtesy of former Obama administration chief of staff and former Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel. “You never let a serious crisis go to waste. And what I mean by that it’s an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before.”

An opportunity to eviscerate the Constitution, perhaps?

Regardless, red-flag laws have their conservative defenders. “If legislatures compose red-flag laws with sufficient due process rights, it would be unreasonable to oppose them,” asserts Andrew McCarthy.

Why? Because “if reasonable action is not taken, it will become increasingly difficult to stave off unreasonable restrictions — which are favored by many Democrats and much of the judiciary,” he adds.

It’s precisely that kind of organized unreasonableness that precipitated the inalienable right to self-defense codified by the Founding Fathers, Mr. McCarthy — all the “interest balancing” efforts of a fascist-wannabe, exploit-a-crisis American Left and its GOP collaborators notwithstanding.

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