How ‘red flag’ laws open the door to sweeping gun confiscation
These laws expose lawful gun owners to random, subjective judgment
Proponents of strict gun-control laws either don’t know or blatantly ignore the fact that criminals who commit crimes with firearms don’t acknowledge or adhere to gun background checks, “red flag” laws, limits on gun magazines or bans on certain types of firearms.
By their very nature, career criminals ignore existing laws governing guns and passage of additional restrictions on gun ownership only make it more difficult for law-abiding citizens to buy or sell firearms.
Despite the fact that additional restrictions on lawful gun ownership will not reduce violent crime, America’s phobic gun grabbers are well organized, well financed and utilize a laundry list of methods to infringe upon our Second Amendment rights.
Red flag laws, for example, are often touted by their supporters as a “common sense” gun-control measure that will help ensure that people who might do harm to themselves or others cannot keep their guns. However, these laws expose lawful gun owners to random, subjective judgment and without due process.
If a family member, co-worker, perhaps a physician, somehow believes — or decides — you may be a threat, they can call authorities with a story about you and empower authorities to seize your firearms. Your Second Amendment rights now fall victim to a disgruntled employee, a neighbor with a grudge or an estranged spouse who can fabricate an accusation allowing the police to remove guns from your home or person.
Have no doubt, red flag laws are the first, frightening steps in a massive, government-controlled, gun-confiscation movement. Our Founding Fathers rebelled against England for far less.
No one wants convicted felons or mentally unstable people to have access to firearms. There are already lawful precautions in place to keep guns out of the hands of the mentally ill. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) presently requires anyone who purchases a firearm from a licensed gun dealer to answer a series of questions before the firearm purchase is legally approved.
Potential gun owners are asked if, he/she, “… has been adjudicated as a mental defective or has been committed to a mental institution.” If so, the individual cannot legally purchase a gun. If this is the goal of red flag laws, the work is done. Such restrictions have been in place for decades.
But gun confiscation is the real motivation behind the people supporting red flag laws. These folks believe they have a duty to rid their communities of firearms. Under these laws, virtually anyone can accuse a co-worker, neighbor or relative regarding their ability to lawfully own a firearm. With red flag legislation behind them, social justice “do-gooders” working with activist judges will easily be able to strip law-abiding gun owners of their constitutional rights and property.
These laws also ignore the value of large gun collections held by dealers and investors. Modern firearms, collector-grade guns, antique and rare weapons often fetch prices of tens of thousands of dollars. There are no provisions under red flag laws to prevent authorities from rough handling, carelessness or damage done to firearms.
A collector who has his guns confiscated could see the value of many pristine condition firearms — some handed down through his family — drop from many thousands of dollars each to guns that are near worthless.
Also ignored by the left are immense legal costs incurred by lawful citizens who must defend themselves in court and try to win back their lawful property. Accused individuals will have to lawyer-up, expend time and resources to appear in court, and fight against the stigma of being labeled a “public threat.” Red flag laws clearly place the accused in a position of guilt until proven innocence.
Red flag laws not only ignore due process, they make it easier for the state to seize firearms from law-abiding citizens. They are a direct assault on lawful citizens’ constitutional rights, and they kick open the door to sweeping, government-run gun confiscation. One can think of few laws that are more threatening to individual liberty and to one’s right to keep and bear arms.
• Mark W. Smith, an attorney and a senior fellow of law and public policy at the King’s College in New York City, is the author of “First They Came for the Gun Owners,” due in stores this October.