Red flag laws and other gun control fantasies

There’s been quite a debate going on over the past week over a currently-popular gun control proposal, the “red flag” law.

That law is ostensibly supposed to keep guns out of the wrong hands. David Kopel testified before a U.S. Senate committee:

“Red flag” laws or “extreme risk protection orders” have been enacted in several states. While the idea for these laws is reasonable, some statutes are not. They destroy due process of law, endanger law enforcement and the public, and can be handy tools for stalkers and abusers to disarm the innocent victims. Nearly a third of such orders are improperly issued against innocent people. …

Bills that claim to be about “Extreme Risk Protection Orders” are not correct; the bills cover much lower-level risks, or just “a danger.” Likewise, the term “red flag” is dubious because some bills label as dangerous the peaceable exercise of constitutional rights. A more accurate name for these laws is “gun confiscation orders.” Such orders can be legitimate when fair procedures accurately identify dangerous individuals. Such laws include the following features:

  • Petitions initiated by law enforcement, not by spurned dating partners or relationships from long ago.
  • Ex parte hearings only when there is proof of necessity.
  • Proof by clear and convincing evidence, which has been corroborated.
  • Guarantees of all due process rights, including cross-examination and right to counsel.
  • Court-appointed counsel if the respondent so wishes.
  • A civil remedy for victims of false and malicious petitions.
  • Safe and orderly procedures for relinquishment of firearms.
  • Strict controls on no-knock raids.
  • Storage of relinquished firearms by responsible third parties.
  • Prompt restoration of concealed carry permits for the falsely accused.
  • Prompt return of firearms upon the termination of an order.
  • Renewal of orders based on presentation of clear and convincing proof.
  • Not allowing time-limited orders to be bootstrapped into lifetime federal prohibition.

Maryland has a red-flag law. And this is how Maryland’s red flag law works, according to the Baltimore Sun:

Two Anne Arundel County police officers serving one of Maryland’s new “red flag” protective orders to remove guns from a house killed a Ferndale man after he refused to give up his gun and a struggle ensued early Monday morning, police said.

The subject of the protective order, Gary J. Willis, 60, answered his door in the 100 block of Linwood Ave. at 5:17 a.m. with a gun in his hand, Anne Arundel County police said. He initially put the gun down next to the door, but “became irate” when officers began to serve him with the order, opened the door and picked up the gun again, police said. …

A spokeswoman for the Maryland Judiciary denied a request to see any and all requests for protection orders made at the residence on Linwood Avenue, citing the law, which states that anything related to an order is confidential unless the court rules otherwise.

Michele Willis said she had grown up in the house and had been there Sunday night to move out her son, who had been helping to care for her grandmother.

Her uncle, Gary Willis, lived in an apartment above the garage; she said other family members, including her grandmother, another uncle, two aunts and Gary Willis’ girlfriend were also at the home Sunday night.

She said her uncle “likes to speak his mind,” but she described him as harmless.

“I’m just dumbfounded right now,” she said. “My uncle wouldn’t hurt anybody.”

David Altschul reports on the Wall Street Journal’s reporting:

Would it be politically incorrect to say that, victimized by “gun control fever,” Democrats who want to win elections are shooting themselves in the foot? THE WALL STREET JOURNAL’s Kimberley A. Strassel cites the following facts in today’s paper: 1) Both the El Paso and Dayton shooters passed background checks; 2) 42% of American adults live in a house with a firearm; 3) In rural areas, it’s 58%; 4) among independents, 48% live in a house with a firearm; 5) 48% of white men are gun-owners; 6) 25% of self-identiifed Democrats live in a gun household, many in the areas of Iowa, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin where Hillary lost; and 7) Nearly 3/4 of the Americans who are current gun-owners say they “can’t see themselves ever NOT owning a gun.” Strassel mentions the gun-control frenzy being fomented by the front-seaters in the 2020 DNC clown car: out of touch with the nation, as usual

The fantasy here, of course, is that the government will act responsibly with the power to take away people’s Second Amendment rights. Altschul again:

When the government starts “red-flagging” people, it can set up a dangerous momentum> Here’s how Lee J. Cobb explained his decision to rat out 20 of his friends to the House Un-American Activities Committee: ‘When the facilities of the government of the United States are drawn on an individual it can be terrifying. The blacklist is just the opening gambit—being deprived of work. Your passport is confiscated. That’s minor. But not being able to move without being tailed is something else. After a certain point it grows to implied as well as articulated threats, and people succumb. My wife did, and she was institutionalized. The HUAC did a deal with me. I was pretty much worn down. I had no money. I couldn’t borrow. I had the expenses of taking care of the children. Why am I subjecting my loved ones to this? If it’s worth dying for, and I am just as idealistic as the next fellow. But I decided it wasn’t worth dying for, and if this gesture was the way of getting out of the penitentiary I’d do it. I had to be employable again.

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