The Problem With Red Flag Laws

Yesterday Hot Air posted an article about Florida’s Red Flag Law. Please follow the link to read the entire article. Based on what has happened since the law was passed, some of Florida’s counties were awash with crazy people and other counties had a totally sane population. I doubt either is entirely true.

The article reports:

Florida enacted its red flag law in the spring of 2018 and they didn’t lose any time in putting it to use. And I mean a lot of use. But as this report from the Associated Press indicates, use of the law is not consistent from county to county and there are serious questions remaining as to how fairly it’s being applied.

That is the problem with Red Flag Laws–they deny a citizen due process and they are arbitrary in the sense that an unhappy neighbor can file a complaint without a truly good reason.

The article continues:

The first thing I would point out here is that the AP article was edited to have a rather disingenuous title. It reads “In 2 years, Florida ‘red flag’ law removes hundreds of guns.” While that’s technically true, the actual number is more than 3,500, so “thousands of guns” would have been a more accurate description.

The article concludes:

Here’s one other hole in the state’s red flag law that has many people concerned. These red flag hearings are not considered criminal proceedings so you aren’t entitled to a lawyer assigned by the court. If you’re too poor to afford a good attorney, your chances of prevailing at the hearing go way down. With all that in mind, how many of these “success” stories about gun confiscations were actually brought by people with an ax to grind against their neighbor or angry ex-wives and girlfriends? Once the judge makes the decision to confiscate your weapons, that’s pretty much it. You’re allowed to appeal, but again, if you don’t have a good lawyer what chance do you have?

I’ve been on the fence about these red flag laws since they first started cropping up. In extreme cases like the ones I mentioned at the top, I can definitely see firearms removal as being justifiable. But the system is also open to abuse and there appear to be few safeguards in place for the wrongly accused.

The Battle For The Second Amendment

The Washington Examiner posted an article today with the following headline, “Sheriffs may go to jail to protect ‘Second Amendment sanctuaries,’ congressman says.”

Virginia’s Governor Ralph Northam recently told WTKR that any law enforcement officer that did not carry out gun control laws enacted by the state would face “consequences,” but he did not give any specifics.

The Second Amendment states:

“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

The article notes:

Kentucky Republican Rep. Thomas Massie thinks some local law enforcement leaders will be willing to go to jail rather than comply with state gun control laws they deem unconstitutional.

“Attended my first 2A sanctuary meeting today in Lewis County (where I live). Standing room only. Friends and neighbors spoke passionately and articulately. County officials unanimously passed a resolution,” Massie tweeted on Dec. 30. “This grassroots movement feels even stronger than the Tea Party in 2010.”

“Second Amendment sanctuary” municipalities last year sprouted up in Illinois, a state with some of the strictest gun control laws. They then spread to Colorado, Kentucky, New Mexico, New Jersey, Oregon, Virginia, Washington state, and other states.

Massie cited Weld County, Colorado Sheriff Steve Reams, a critic of the state’s “red flag” law, who has offered to put himself in his own jail rather than enforce the state law.

“His county government has already voted to fund his legal fees should he end up in a protracted legal battle that might go all the way” to the Supreme Court, Massie told the Washington Examiner.

“And so that’s one of the things that when you boil it all down and say, ‘What does the sanctuary county movement mean?’” Massie said. “So, what it could mean is that county governments decide to use taxpayer dollars, with the blessing of the taxpayers in those counties, to support the sheriffs in their court battles.”

Red flag laws are unconstitutional–they violate the principle of innocent until proven guilty, and they take property from citizens without the necessary legal procedures. Those laws seem like a good idea on the surface until you realize that people could use those laws to take guns away from people they simply don’t like. Unfortunately, red flag laws in action could very easily mirror what happened during the Salem Witch Trials where a person was accused of being a witch because someone wanted their farm. This is a glaring example of what happens when the legal rights of the accused are not respected.

How Red Flag Laws Can Be Misused

The American Thinker posted an article today about a move during the Obama administration to deny gun rights to veterans and senior citizens.

The article reports:

The Obama administration’s idea of keeping guns out of the hands of the mentally ill was based on a bizarre and discriminatory definition of who might be mentally unstable. In 2013 it was reported that the Veterans Administration was sending letters to vets warning them that they might be declared mentally incompetent and denied their Second Amendment rights unless they could prove otherwise:

The contempt by the Obama administration for our Constitution and our rights has reached a new low with news the Veterans Administration has begun sending letters to veterans telling them they will be declared mentally incompetent and stripped of the Second Amendment rights unless they can prove to unnamed bureaucrats to the contrary…

“A determination of incompetency will prohibit you from purchasing, possessing, receiving, or transporting a firearm or ammunition. If you knowingly violate any of these prohibitions, you may be fined, imprisoned, or both pursuant to the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act, Pub.L.No. 103-159, as implemented at 18, United States Code 924(a)(2),” the letter reads…

While mental health is a factor in the current gun control debate and recent mass shootings in Newtown, Conn., and Aurora, Colo., and elsewhere have in common the questionable mental state of the shooters, to single out returning vets from Iraq and Afghanistan this way is unconscionable and unconstitutional.

As the Los Angeles Times has reported, the Obama administration would have liked like to make our Social Security records part of the background check system. The move would have stripped some four million Americans who receive payments though a “representative payee” of their gun rights. It would be the largest gun grab in U.S. history.

A potentially large group within Social Security are people who, in the language of federal gun laws, are unable to manage their own affairs due to “marked subnormal intelligence, or mental illness, incompetency, condition, or disease.”

There is no simple way to identify that group, but a strategy used by the Department of Veterans Affairs since the creation of the background check system is reporting anyone who has been declared incompetent to manage pension or disability payments and assigned a fiduciary.

The article concludes:

Keeping guns out of the hands of the truly mentally unstable is a worthy goal, but it should not be used as a cause for disarming veterans who carried a weapon in defense of their country or seniors who might need some assistance in paying their bills.

They deserve the presumption of innocence, and sanity, every bit as much as Vester Flanagan. Stripping away their Second Amendment rights in the name of mental health would be a gross injustice that would not make us safer, but would merely create millions of unarmed victims for the next shooter with an agenda.

We need to make sure that American citizens understand our Constitution and Bill of Rights. The Bill of Rights is there to limit the rights of government–not the rights of citizens. If we want to preserve our republic, we have to continue to fight to protect those rights our Founding Fathers codified in the Constitution and The Bill of Rights.

Ignoring Our God-given Rights Enumerated In The U.S. Consitution

Yesterday Townhall posted an article that illustrates the problem with the ‘red flag’ laws currently being discussed by gun-control advocates. The article tells the story of Jonathan Carpenter, a Florida resident.

The article reports:

According to Ammoland, Jonathan Carpenter received a certified letter from the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services saying his concealed handgun permit had been suspended for “acts of domestic violence or acts of repeat violations.”

Carpenter was forced to go to the Osceola County clerk’s office to have a form filled out stating he wasn’t the person law enforcement was looking for. At that point, the clerk instructed Carpenter to speak with the sheriff’s office.

Ammoland reports:

The Sheriff’s office supplied Carpenter with a copy of the injunction. In the statement, the plaintiff stated that she rented a room out to a “Jonathan Edward Carpenter” and his girlfriend. She alleged that this Carpenter was a drug dealer who broke her furniture and sold her belongings without her permission. He had a gun, and she feared for her life. She was not sure if the firearm was legal or not.

Carpenter had never met the woman in question and never lived at the address listed in the restraining order. Moreover, other than being white, he looked nothing like the man the terrorized the woman.

The man in question is 5’8. Carpenter is 5’11. The alleged drug dealer is 110lbs. Carpenter is over 200. The man has black hair. Carpenter is completely bald. Last but not least, the man in question is covered in tattoos, and Carpenter only has a few.

Even though it was evident they had the wrong man, Carpenter was forced to hand over his firearms. There was no hearing or any kind of court proceeding.

Read those last two sentences again.

The article concludes:

Carpenter’s firearms had to remain in police custody until the plaintiff can say, in court, that he’s not the man that she filed a complaint against. He’d then have to petition the court to get his firearms back…and he would have to bear the cost. Carpenter will get his day in court later this month. 

What’s happening to this man is the exact instance Second Amendment supporters have worried about. This very instant is what we’ve talked about, time and time again. What if Carpenter needed to defend himself between now and his court date? He couldn’t, because the government failed him. He’s having to prove himself innocent in a country where everyone is supposed to be innocent until proven guilty.

The ‘laws’ used to confiscate Mr. Carpenter’s firearms are not constitutional. This nightmare scenario would be frequently repeated if ‘red flag’ laws are passed. Mr. Carpenter is innocent until proven guilty. He was not treated that way.