February 24, 2023

In Brief: Red-Flag Laws Won’t Keep Anyone Safer

Red-flag laws do nothing but put innocent people at risk and make it easier to disarm opponents for political purposes.

Gun controllers love “red flag” laws that supposedly empower people to have guns removed from someone who is a danger to themselves or others. The big red flag for constitutional advocates, however, is due process — or the lack thereof. Gun researcher John Lott also points to another problem: Red flag laws don’t do what leftists say they’ll do.

If a person is really a danger to himself or others, confiscating guns isn’t much of a solution. There are so many other ways for disturbed people to cause harm. But advocates of “red flag” laws want people to believe that simply taking away someone’s legally-owned guns means the problem is solved.

Last week, the Biden administration announced it was using part of the $1.8 trillion massive spending bill passed after last year’s election to give $231 million to states that enact red-flag laws and push other gun-control policies. After last week’s mass public shooting at Michigan State University, gun-control advocates from Michael Bloomberg’s Moms Demand Action were again touting red-flag laws as the solution. Michigan legislators also see the attack as a chance to pass the law.

The law doesn’t respect the right to due process. Judges take away a person’s guns without a hearing based on only a mere written complaint. But the laws also don’t even make people safer.

Lott points to a variety of attacks in recent years with vehicles, just to show how easy it is to use another tool for crime. Furthermore, he says there are still limitations upon judges. He argues self-harm is also not prevented.

As to using red-flag laws to prevent suicides, about half of suicides do indeed involve guns, but there are lots of other lethal methods (e.g., hanging, cyanide, walking in front of a train or bus, jumping from a lethal height). When all firearms are banned, the suicide rates remain statistically unchanged as people simply switch to other ways of killing themselves.

Finally, Lott points to public opinion and brings it back around to the stats.

A frequent claim is that red-flag laws are very popular. But when surveys explain that guns are taken away without a hearing and that no mental health professionals are involved, voters change from 2-to-1 support to almost 2-to-1 opposition.

If a person is actually dangerous, he has so many other ways to commit suicide or kill others. It is no wonder research shows red-flag laws to be ineffective.

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