One of the proposals that have been floated in response to the rash of mass shootings that have recently taken place has been the imposition of a “Red Flag” law. The way a Red Flag law would work is that if a person is found to be a danger to himself or others, to be determined by a judge, law enforcement could be sent to that person’s residence to confiscate his firearms.
That theory is that someone showing the behavior of a mass shooter or murderer would be deprived of the means to carry out such an act. The person in question would have the right to petition the judge to have his or her weapons returned, perhaps by agreeing to undergo mental health treatment, perhaps by proving that the fears that he or she is a potential mass killer are spurious.
Critics of Red Flag laws point out that they can be subject to abuse and manipulation. Disputes ranging from divorce proceedings to neighborhood conflicts could be “weaponized” by people striking at someone they dislike by making a false claim that he or she is a potential mass murderer. To apply due process and to make sure that a Red Flag law passing judicial review, they have to be crafted carefully.
Red Flag laws can also have tragic consequences. The CBS affiliate in Baltimore noted an incident in which police tried to serve an order to take the guns of a man, only to be obliged to kill him in an exchange of gunfire. At the time of the incident, no one knew who reported the victim or why.
According to Hot Air, another fly in the ointment of Red Flag laws has arisen thanks to a dispute between Democrats and Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee. Committee Democrats rejected a Republican attempt to amend the proposed law to include gang members on the list of people who would be issued protective orders to confiscate firearms.
On the face of it, the idea seems to be a no brainer. Many people have noted the weekly carnage that takes place in inner cities, such as Chicago, in which street gangs fight it out for turf, to settle scores, or to expand illegal enterprises such as drug dealing. If the police were able to seize firearms from people whose business practice includes killing people, that mass deaths that regularly take place in the inner city could be reduced.
The excuse the Democrats offered for rejecting the amendment is that the databases of gang members are often inaccurate. Hot Air thought this was a fair point, but Rep Ken Buck, a Colorado Republican, pointed out that according to the amendment, being on one of those lists would not automatically trigger a red flag. Due process would be followed.
Then things took a strange turn.
“The Democrats countered by saying they would like to add ‘individuals affiliated with white nationalism.’ How precisely are you going to define who is affiliated with ‘white nationalism?’ People show up on gang databases because they commit gang-related crimes. You can be accused of being affiliated with ‘white nationalism’ for writing an op-ed.”
Who is a ‘white nationalist?’ Do they include members of the American Nazi Party and the KKK? Or would they include all supporters of President Donald Trump, a man many Democrats accuse of being a white nationalist? The very idea is a constitutional train wreck.
Hot Air points out that what is being proposed is, technically, not a national Red Flag law, which would involve federal agents seizing firearms. The measure being debated is simply a resolution urging that the states pass Red Flag laws. The states would be able to craft them as they please, including who what circumstances would trigger the protection order.
Hot Air also speculates that part of the Democrats’ objection is likely racial. Many urban gangs are comprised of African Americans and Hispanic Americans. However, “There are white gangs running meth operations in the south and biker gangs all over the country with few or no minorities. They could have been added as well. That might have pleased the Democrats.”
In short, House members, especially Democrats, are engaged in ‘common-sense gun control’ theater. The purpose is not to do something but to be seen as trying to do something. The exercise is a complete waste of time.