• ‘Red Flag Laws’? Nope — Too Dangerous to Support

    Surge Summary: Everyone seems excited about “Red Flag” gun control laws these days — but there are reasons gun owners ought to be wary of them. 

    The saying goes, “Hard cases make bad law.” Taking the cue, author and talk host Bryan Fischer concludes “Red Flag Laws” are bad.

    “Red Flag” laws are suddenly all the rage, the “gun control” measure around which it seems many on both sides can rally on the heels of the El Paso and Dayton mass-shootings.  These statutes are designed to pre-empt gun-related atrocities, taking guns away from mentally unstable people before they can harm themselves or anyone else.

    A great approach — in theory, but in practice, Fischer asserts, “such laws are a danger to mentally healthy people in our day and a threat to the Constitution to boot.”

    Here’s the rub:

    Who gets to decide who is too mentally unstable to own a firearm? And how is that decision made? Most newly adopted laws (six such laws have been signed this year) and newly proposed laws (two dozen have been introduced in various states) require some kind of certification from a mental health professional that a judge can then use to confiscate someone’s firearm(s).

    To put it bluntly, this puts your right to own a firearm into the hands of the American Psychological Association or the American Psychiatric Association, who will set the standards for the mental health community. No thanks.

    Recall, these groups once correctly viewed homosexuality as a profound mental disorder. They once did so. Now? It’s those who disapprove of homosexuality who are deemed the ones suffering from a mental disorder.

    There are many on the left, including many in the helping professions, who think of conservative Christians as mentally disordered and incurable bigots, racists, homophobes, and xenophobes, and fantasists who believe in an invisible but powerful friend in the sky whom no one has ever seen. If these mental health professionals acquire the authority to legally recommend the confiscation of firearms, every liberty we value will be placed at risk.

    America would suddenly find itself in a situation where anti-conservative arbiters will decide which rights conservatives can enjoy.

    As NRA spokesman Catherine Mortensen said, any risk-protection orders must include, at a minimum, “strong due process protections.” After all, we are talking here about an explicit constitutional right, the right to own and carry firearms, enshrined in the Constitution as one of the inalienable rights bestowed on us by the Creator.

    The Constitution is clear that an individual can be required by the state to forfeit a constitutional right, but only after he has received “due process” first. This means that he must be indicted for a crime established by lawmakers, have the right to face his accusers in open court, be put on trial before a jury of his peers, and have the assistance of counsel. If a jury finds him guilty, then and only then can he be deprived of his right to self-defense.

    Obviously, for those designated as “mentally disordered” some form of treatment will have to be prescribed — otherwise, how will the envisioned restriction do any good? Who will administer it? Pay for it? Do we have any reason to conclude such professional counseling will make a difference? Or are we talking about mere “feel-good legislation that accomplishes nothing.”

    If the legally prescribed treatments include confinement in a facility, Fischer reminds us, possible compromises involving another inalienable right suddenly come into view — the right to liberty.

    Will meaningful punishments be available toward those who, in circumstances of “high interpersonal conflict”, inevitably take advantage of such extreme risk orders to make false claims? The angry ex-spouse? The vengeful business partner? The annoyed neighbor? If so, what exactly will those penalties be?

    Consider that law suits already are abused by vindictive people to torment someone with whom they have a beef. The cumbersome, inconvenient and costly process itself is wielded like a blunt instrument to make miserable a person against whom the accuser holds a grudge. “Red Flag Laws” would naturally and easily fall into that possible misuse.

    Finally, say a judge does take away a firearm away from someone ruled dangerous.  What prevents the convicted person from simply recurring to another weapon? Researcher Clayton Cramer has illustrated – and anyone paying attention to the news has, no doubt, observed –mass murders have been carried out in lots of creative ways; “with axes and hatchets and knives, with fire, poison gas, explosives, and vehicles.”

    In USA Today‘s list of mass murders for the years 2008 to 2017, almost 25 percent were carried out without guns. We don’t hear much about them because they don’t fit the left’s narrative that it is guns and not people which are inherently evil.

    Another troubling possibility is that anyone on any kind of prescription psychotropic medication from antidepressants on up will be swept up in these measures. Or what about an individual undergoing therapy?

    On top of all this, only about 25 percent of all mass shooters had been clinically declared mentally ill before the carnage occurred. Everytown for Gun Safety, a gun-control organization, says only about half the gunmen in mass shootings even exhibit warning signs before the killings. How does that help us with the other half?

    Besides which, in America, we do not punish people for what they might do.

    That’s a plot point from a movie (Minority Report). It’s unnerving to think it could become a part of real life.

    “The only solution.” Concludes Fischer,

    is the one that has been there since 1789: The Second Amendment, which guarantees the right of all Americans to defend themselves with a weapon at home and in public. Of all mass shootings in the last 70 years, 98 percent have taken place in gun-free zones which turn into human shooting galleries when nobody in the place can shoot back. It turns out the only ones who were gun-free were the ones who needed a gun to protect themselves. Red flag laws aren’t going to do anything about that.

    That solution will drive bonkers the anti-2A set. What?! Trust individuals to defend themselves? It furthermore punctures the fable that by simply waving its policy or regulatory hand the government can solve every problem.

    It also happens to be historically and logically sustainable.

    Image: Creative Commons; CC by 2.0; adapted from: https://www.flickr.com/photos/stevensnodgrass/3829690329/

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