So-called “Red Flag Laws” would not have prevented Dayton or El Paso, and set a dangerous precedent that attack one half of the Bill of Rights all at once.
Since this past weekend’s horrific killings in Dayton, Ohio and El Paso, Texas, more and more people are hearing of “bipartisan” efforts to pass a national so-called “Red Flag Law.”
What are “red flag laws?”
Currently, there are 17 “state laws that authorize courts to issue a special type of protection order, allowing the police to temporarily confiscate firearms from people who are deemed by a judge to be a danger to themselves or to others,” explains the New York Times.
Prior to last year’s massacre at Marjorie Stoneman High School in Parkland, Florida, there were only five states with “red flag laws.” After Parkland, 12 more states passed them.
After the mass killings this past weekend, however, Congress is considering passing a national “red flag law.”
Red Flag Laws would not have prevented Dayton, El Paso, Las Vegas, or Orlando.
According to the news over the last several days, the El Paso killer never showed any outward signs of the horror he was to inflict on others in El Paso.
He did not show up on the authorities’ radar, nor have there been any reports that he was in trouble at school, or anywhere else.
“This was not a volatile, explosive, erratic behaving kid,” one of the attorneys representing the El Paso shooter’s family told CNN. “It’s not like alarm bells were going off.”
In Dayton, although there were plenty of signs and warnings of mental instability and potential danger, no one reported them to authorities—including the Dayton shooter’s ex-girlfriend who recalled the “red flags”, but never told anyone until after the Dayton Massacre.
While a red flag law may have helped in Parkland—since enough people were aware of the accused killer’s behavior as a student—if a red flag law calls for only temporary confiscation of firearms, a red flag law might have been just useless as well.
In Parkland, the killer had been out of the high school for a year before he went back to commit his horrific crimes.
Moreover, there is ample evidence that the Parkland shooter should have been institutionalized and not have been freely walking the streets and that the authorities failed at all levels in their duties.
Parkland, however, is the exception to the rule.
A red flag law would not have stopped the Las Vegas mass shooting—as the shooter gave no indication of his premeditated actions; nor, would a Red Flag law stopped the Pulse massacre in Orlando; nor would it have stopped the Sutherland Springs shooting—because the “red flags were unseen.”
Red flag laws eviscerate one half of the Bill of Rights.
As most U.S. citizens know, the framers of the U.S. Constitution included ten amendments, known as the Bill of Rights.
The enactment of a red flag law poses a “clear and present danger” to five out of those ten amendments.
The First Amendment—It goes without saying that we live in a politically-divided time.
There have been cases over the years where people with opposing political views have “swatted” by anonymous online enemies.
With red flag laws, just as anonymously misuse law enforcement during swatting calls, it is not hard to imagine the misuse of red flag laws against political opponents for exercising free speech on line.
Or, for example, say two neighbors get into a heated political discussion about gun control and the gun control advocate does not agree with his gun-owning neighbor.
What is to stop the neighbor from telling authorities he feels that his neighbor is a threat to himself or others?
The Second Amendment (The Right to Bear Arms)—“…the right of the people to keep and bear Arms shall not be infringed.” Clearly, the purpose of a red flag law is an infringement of his/her Second Amendment rights for a reason—and individuals can and do have their Second Rights infringed upon but not without due process.
The Fourth Amendment (Protection from Unreasonable Searches and Seizures)—“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation…”
Red flag laws allow a judge to issue an order to take an individual’s firearms, based on reports from family, friends or authorities who believe an individual is a threat.
However, the individual has no due process, and no right to counsel prior to have having his firearms confiscated by police without having committed. The individual is guilty until proven innocent.
The Fifth Amendment (Protection of Rights to Life, Liberty, and Property)—“No person shall… be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law…”
Red flag laws thwart due process.
They, by design, allow an accuser to accuse an individual of potentially-bad acts in the future and the authorities to seize property (firearms) without the accused ability to defend himself.
The Sixth Amendment—“In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial by an impartial jury of the state and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor; and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense.”
While red flag supporters may argue that stripping an individual of his/her Second Amendment rights is not a “criminal prosecution,” in a large way, it is.
Despite the fact that no crime has been committed, the accused is having rights stripped (in secret) and property taken without being “informed of the nature and cause of the accusation,” without being “confronted with the witnesses against him,” having “compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor,” nor having “the assistance of counsel for his defense.”
“As in the film Minority Report,” noted the USA Today last year, “Americans are being stripped of their fundamental constitutional rights based on the subjective possibility of a ‘future crime.'”
“If the constitution can be suspended in a secret hearing, where does this lead?” asks the USA Today.
Additionally, if authorities seize only the firearms of an individual who poses a potential threat to himself or others, why would that person suddenly not pose a threat with any other weapon, like a knife or a vehicle?
Why not just remove (arrest) the individual for his “pre-crime?” Or, is that too slippery a slope…for now?