Red flag laws are generally a bad idea. They are a symptom of a malady pols on both sides of the aisle are all too likely to indulge in nowadays – the pathological need to be seen as “doing something.” In fact, these laws violate a number of Consitutionally-guaranteed rights. Excerpt:
Under pressure to “do something” about mass killings, some Republican politicians have followed their Democrat counterparts by endorsing red flag laws. These laws authorize confiscation of firearms if a judge finds the owner poses a risk to himself or others.
But the history of red flag laws should make those politicians reconsider.
Modern red flag laws deny gun owners prior notice or a chance to defend themselves against an initial confiscation order. A judge may issue the order after an uncontested hearing. In some states, the person seeking the order is held to a relatively low burden of proof.
This disregard for due process would be wrong even if red flag laws were proven effective. But the few studies on the subject suggest they are not. One study even concludes that these measures may increase rape.
In politics, if we know a proposal doesn’t serve its advertised purpose, then the advertised purpose usually is not the real one. In this case, the dominant motive seems to be to take guns away from people, despite the undeniable role of firearms in self-defense and crime prevention.
Ironically, by adopting the term “red flag law,” promoters inadvertently admitted their real motive is not safety. This is because the phrase “red flag law” has been proverbial for an enactment masquerading as a safety measure but really passed for more sinister reasons.
- 4th Amendment protections against unreasonable searches and seizures
- 5th Amendment guarantees of due process
- 6th Amendment right to confront an accuser.
But, at least, politicians can claim to have “done something.”
As we’ll examine in more depth on Friday, there is little or no impetus at any level of government to actually identify the underlying causes of things like mass shootings – and nobody in politics or media seems to give an ounce of crap about the death tolls in places like Baltimore or Chicago, which experience the equivalent of a highly-publicized mass shooting on any given weekend.
Instead, the media’s concern is ratings, and the pol’s concern is grandstanding. Facts be damned.
It’s a fine damn pass we’ve come to.