New Gun Laws: ”Red Flag”

We’ve seen it happen again and again: a mass shooting lights the fires for new and more intense gun laws — again. “We must do something to stop these murders!” Sadly, these cries are for political purposes only and have never resulted in any meaningful actions. 

There are several hindrances to an overhaul of gun control laws, the chief of which is the Second Amendment, which guarantees the right for private citizens to own guns. Yes, there are many who refute that the Amendment says that. Be that as it may, the U.S. Supreme Court when ruling on several cases has confirmed that perspective of the legality of the Second Amendment.

Another roadblock for gun control advocates is that private citizens in America own tens of millions of guns. How would any new laws — if any would pass muster when weighed against the Second Amendment court findings — address the issue of those numerous guns already legally in the hands of Americans? Would we implement some mandatory roundup of all the guns? Can you imagine the civil war that such an attempt would initiate? Most American gun owners understand that our forefathers when crafting the Second Amendment did so to guarantee citizens personal protection, not against foreign enemies, but against the American government should it ever wage war against its own citizens!

Red Flag Laws

Certainly in the wake of the two most recent mass shootings in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio you have heard the demands for this “new” method to stop gun crimes: “Red Flag laws.” What are they and how would they work?

Red flag laws, sometimes called extreme risk protection order laws, allow a judge to issue an order that enables law enforcement to confiscate guns from individuals deemed a risk to themselves or others. Since the Parkland, Florida school shooting, at least two dozen states have considered enacting similar laws in their states. In Vermont, a red flag law has already passed the both the Senate and House.

Red flag laws are a fairly simple process. Depending on the state, family members or law enforcement can go to court and seek an order that would allow police to remove guns from the individual’s home and restrict their ability to purchase firearms. The person seeking the order must first fill out a form providing evidence of danger to others or self, then the court holds an expedited hearing. If a judge agrees that the individual is a threat, their guns will be removed for a temporary period that can last from a few weeks to a year.

Here’s the rub of red flag laws for many Second Amendment advocates: one can easily imagine how subjective this process would be. Subjectivity means that different judges in different parts of the nation considering this process for different people under different circumstances would be responsible to curtail a person’s Second Amendment rights not for violating that law, but upset some people sufficient to convince a judge that the person was a danger to people around them.

It’s easy to imagine horrors that certainly WILL result from red flag laws at the federal level. Just consider this one thing: there are far too few judges at every federal level to timely and judiciously process cases before them now. Add a few million more each year to their docket and we’ll see justice watered down and more innocent people being deprived of their constitutional rights.

So what downside might there be — in reality — if a federal red flag law would become law? One policeman (who chose to remain anonymous) gave the following scenario of one red flag notification processed in America:

It’s a Sunday night and your family has all gone to bed. You let the dogs back in and lock the deadbolt like you do every night. All the lights are off now except a couple of night lights scattered throughout the house leaving that dim glow throughout your home. It’s bedtime and work and school are going to come early in the morning. You crawl in bed, kiss your wife and drift off to sleep being thankful for the air conditioning that allows you to pull that heavy quilt up over your shoulder despite the fact it’s still 85 degrees outside. A few hours pass…

2:00 AM Monday morning and your wife taps your leg and says, “Baby I heard something outside.” As you sit up in bed you hear the dog growling in the living room and you know something isn’t right. You grab that trusty 870 shotgun and head into the living room. Your wife grabs her 9mm pistol and heads down the hall to the kids rooms just like you have rehearsed. “Good boy” you say as you enter the living room, trying to calm both the dog and your wife just as splinters fly across the room and the front door flys open. “Oh crap!” As you shoulder your weapon and send a load of Buck shot across your living room and see the perpetrator fall in a heap. Before the “Thank God!” can even run across your brain, you see a second man coming in the door and you fire again. This time you hear the pop of your wife’s 9mm as she joined in the fight. It has to be those damn meth heads from down in town! Just then you are consumed by a wall of bullets as you see multiple muzzle flashes from just outside the door and you realize something isn’t right. You turn to yell at your wife to “Get Down!” just in time to see her take a load of buckshot to the face and her brain matter splatter the wall behind her. You feel the burning as 5.56 caliber bullets riddle your body. One clips your spine as you’re scrambling away and paralyzes your lower body. The last thing you see before you bleed out is a SWAT guy from your local PD holding your teenage daughter on the floor with a knee in her back as she screams and cries because she just watched her parents being murdered.

Why did this happen? You’re no criminal. You’re a Conservative and an honest family man. Your wife is a school teacher and your daughters are on the honor roll. Why did this happen?

Two days ago, you and your wife went down to welcome the new neighbors to the community. Your wife made them some of her “world- famous” cookies and you invited them to church on Sunday. Later that afternoon, you got a friend request on Facebook from your new neighbor, which you gladly accepted. They seemed a little odd, but in the few minutes you talked they seemed pleasant enough. The next day while you and your family sat in church, your new neighbor scrolled through your Facebook profile. He saw that “Trump 2020” post and got infuriated. See, he’s a staunch liberal and he hates your kind. The next thing he sees are the hunting pictures you took last fall when your daughter bagged her first buck. Now he’s seething with rage because he is wholeheartedly against the “slaughter of innocent animals.” Next he sees your post from the last range day with your buddy and sees those scary black assault weapons on the table and that does it! He has to do something about the racist domestic terrorist living next door. He picks up the phone, calls the local Sheriffs Office and reports you as a threat under the new Red Flag law. The Sheriffs follow their Standard Operating Procedures and conduct a no-knock warrant because you have now been denied due process and you are considered guilty until proven innocent.

Now you, your lovely wife and two deputies have been killed for nothing. Your daughter will have absolute hell for the rest of her life. She will never be that successful person you dreamed for her to be because of the mental tragedy caused from seeing her parents murdered. The local newspaper will report that you were killed after firing on and killing two deputies and that “over a thousand rounds of ammo and 22 guns were confiscated from your residence”.

Those two deputies were just following orders. They left behind families as well and had served their community for over a decade. They didn’t know you were a stand-up guy with a great family. They weren’t allowed time to investigate things under due process. They were told you had threatened your neighbor and were out in the street waving an AR15 around.

This is the reality of Red Flag gun laws.

Summary

Some will accuse me of giving an unrealistic example of a “possible” not “probable” red flag scenario. But let’s be honest: what would prevent such a hypothetical becoming a reality? Some will say, “Well, at least we made certain a few more guns were taken off the street and two Americans who were subject to rashly grabbing guns and firing at cops won’t be doing that anymore.” That certainly would be true. But these two people were denied a normal “due process” — which is “innocent until proven guilty” — even though the law supporting the red flag process would have been followed. The bottom line though: they both would have died in no way breaking a law. 

There are plenty of federal laws. Let’s enforce them! And, by the way, there is very little managed in the political system that cannot be managed better in the private sector. Why not add these to gun crime law enforcement:

  • Create neighborhood interaction groups who would create circles of neighbors who would “watch” all that goes on in their neighborhoods. Make local law enforcement responsible for interfacing with every other member of their community. If/when strange elements appear in neighborhoods, take them to law enforcement folks.
  • In each neighborhood, include a local policeman and a mental health professional who volunteer to teach methods of watching for criminal propensity in others and how to report any to law enforcement.

These two things if not the permanent answer would be a great foundation to a system that would involve all Americans in keeping America safe. And it would be doing it without giving our government tens of billions more tax dollars to keep us safe. What a novel idea: let’s let Americans act like Americans!

We’ve got to something, and what we need to do is NOT something that will get logjammed in a bureaucratic process. It’s time for Americans to take charge of our towns and cities away from big government and take personal responsibility.

It just might work.