A “Red Flag Law” is a law that permits police or family members to petition the state court to order the temporary removal of firearms from a person who they perceive to present a danger to others or themselves. The laws are called “Extreme Risk Protection Orders,” “Risk Protection Orders” or “Gun Violence Restraining Orders,” depending on the state. There are 17 states and DC that have some form of “red flag laws,” up from just five two years ago. Red flag Law’s constitutionality has been challenged, and it has been ruled they did not violate the right to keep and bear arms.(Redington v. State of Indiana), but it is certain it will make its way to the Supreme Court.
At the federal level, Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn) have introduced a bill that would offer state’s money if they implemented a “red flag law.” Six Republicans have indicated they would support some form of a red flag law, so it is likely it will get past the Senate and the Democrat-controlled House. Would President Trump sign or veto it? If he doesn’t sign it, is there enough support to override a veto? Probably not. Immediately after the El Paso and Dayton shootings, the president appeared to support red flag laws, but it appears he is not as enthusiastic. Senator Jim Inhofe (R-OK) has said the issue should not be dealt with at the federal level, but by individual states. Gov. Stitt has said he doesn’t favor red flag laws.
First, gun violence will not be curbed by passing more legislation. There are already thousands of laws (local, state, federal) on the books regarding guns, many that are not enforced. Criminals don’t obey laws, so the only person restricted when more laws are implemented is law abiding citizens.
Second, “red flag laws’”are not about mental illness. Only one of the 17 states’ laws mention mental health. Red flags rely on the prognostication premonition ability of what a person may do before they do it. It’s real life pre-crime (”Minority Report”). It might make good entertainment, but no one is psychic and can predict the future. A fundamental question is who holds the “red flag,” and what is their criteria for raising it?
Third, liberty can be messy. The Second Amendment makes it difficult for the neutralizers on the left. The Second Amendment wasn’t put into the U.S. Constitution for duck hunting, but to protect individual liberty. When lawmakers restrict liberty for the criminal, they restrict liberty for everyone, and the only person who complies is the honest citizen. After 9/11, the people inconvenienced at the airport by the Patriot Act, walking around in their sock feet, were the compliant.
Americans should want instruments of defense in their possession, not in the hands of government. Knee-jerk legislation in response to tragic events is never a good idea. No one wants to see another mass shooting, but slicing off our liberty to prevent one is not the right solution.
Benjamin Franklin once said: “Those who would give up essential liberty, to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.”