Why Red Flag Laws Should Raise Red Flags For Gun Owners
Once recess ends, lawmakers will return to Washington, D.C. and will begin drafting several bills aimed at eroding gun rights, including red flag laws. What’s the big deal with red flag laws? Aren’t they supposed to prevent ‘bad’ people from obtaining firearms? Let’s break down what exactly red flag laws are.
Red flag laws allow the courts to issue orders confiscating guns of individuals deemed to be a risk to others and to themselves. Depending on the state, extreme risk protection orders (ERPO) can be issued by a family member and/or law enforcement. In some other states, teachers, medical professionals, and coworkers are lawfully in their right to petition to the courts for an ERPO.
While the idea is to prevent anything catastrophic from happening, this type of order violates both the presumption of innocence and the due process requirement of proof of criminal behavior before liberty can be infringed. For whatever reason, your rights could disappear before you can have your day in court. It’s then up to you to prove your innocence in front of a court that easily decided to take your rights away in the first place.
Judge Andrew P. Napolitano discusses the unconstitutionality of such laws:
In 2008 Justice Antonin Scalia wrote for the Supreme Court that the right to keep and bear arms in the home is an individual pre-political right. Due process demands that this level of right — we are not talking about the privilege of a driving a car on a government street — can only be taken away after a jury conviction or a guilty plea to a felony.
The “might happen” standard of “red flag” laws violates this basic principle. The same Supreme Court case also reflects the Kentucky long gun lesson. The people are entitled to own and possess the same arms as the government; for the same reason as the colonists did — to fight off tyrants should they seize liberty or property.
These laws are unconstitutional! Furthermore, they open the door for abuse, they violate due process, they are ineffectual, and they may make things worse by scaring people away from seeking mental health treatment out of a fear they may lose their Second Amendment rights.
Don’t let lawmakers vote away your gun rights this fall! Urge members of Congress to say NO to red flag laws and any other gun control measures that deprive innocent people of their rights.