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Red Flag on the Play


When politicians say “due process,” the ring sounds hollow

Shelby Murdoc

As what appears to be a media-driven series of mass shootings takes lives and dominates social media, the calls for increased gun control once again grow stronger, fueled by crime and tragedy. As always, longtime gun control activists and the politicians who listen to them cry that we must do SOMETHING and we must do it NOW. I can’t blame them for their rush, really. They know that, to have any chance, they need to cash in on all the sympathy and horror before America begins thinking clearly about the topic again.

 Just like the post-9/11 PATRIOT Act—a wish list written by those who had long schemed to increase the government’s power over its citizens—could only have been passed in the weeks following 2001’s horrific terror attack, the tightened restrictions and outright bans proposed by gun controllers only have a prayer when the citizenry is in shock and not thinking clearly. One of the most dangerous threats to personal liberty—“Red Flag” laws—would not have a chance with those who love and demand freedom if they were thinking rationally.

Red Flag laws, of course, operate under the guise of preventing crime before it happens. And, on the surface, they appear to make some sense. “If you see something, say something,” is a reasonable plan, and Red Flag laws would allow everyone to be part of the system that recognizes and reports potentially dangerous situations. The problem, of course, is that Red Flag laws lower the bar for legal action too far and virtually do away with the concept of due process.

Suddenly someone’s—almost anyone’s—word becomes powerful enough to violate someone else’s—anyone else’s—inalienable rights. The government swoops in and, at the very least, confiscates a citizen’s property. The citizen is left with no recourse but a long and probably expensive legal battle to have his or her rights restored and (maybe) eventually recover their property. Meanwhile, the cost to the person who saw the Red Flag and reported it is zero. No personal cost to report and no personal cost if the report ends up being completely wrong. The gun owner, meanwhile, is basically screwed.

No wonder gun controllers love Red Flag laws. They provide have a quick, easy, and free method to harass and disarm gun owners.

 Don’t kid yourself that this system would not be misused. Corruption and false reporting would be widespread, and everyone knows it. Anyone who claims that people would only file honest reports and that application of the law would be fair and equitable knows nothing whatsoever about human nature, history, or the way government does business. Or they’re lying.

Even if not intentionally misused, Red Flag law reporting would be at the mercy of the reporter’s biases and rationality. Do people who today believe that America is racist, and that law enforcement unfairly targets black citizens, believe that Red Flag laws would not be frequently used to disarm black gun owners? If America is as racist as they believe, and law enforcement is as willing to enact this racism as they say, what other possible outcome could there be?

We should not forget the case of Rep. Victoria Morales of the Maine Legislature’s Judiciary Committee. Back in May, Rep. Morales told the Bangor News that seeing a man with his hand in his pocket enter her children’s school was terrifying and is one of the reasons that Maine should pass increased gun control legislation. Now, I doubt many would deny Rep. Morales the right to feel concern about her children’s well-being. But “terror” at seeing “a man with his hands in his pockets” is not a rational reason to increase restrictions on Constitutionally guaranteed human rights. With Red Flag laws in place, though, law enforcement’s involvement in the hands-in-pants scenario is only a phone call away.

Or look at the man who walked into a Florida Walmart and asked for a gun that could kill 200 people to make a point about white nationalism and gun control. “I’m in a Walmart a few days after El Paso and I’m seeing a white nationalist looking guy purchase a gun and I got mad,” the man explained. Never mind the fact that the actual number of actual white supremacists in America wouldn’t impress anyone, we need to look at how this would-be activist knew the gun buyer was of them.

“He was around 30 years old,” the man said in an interview. “White male. Nice, I mean pleasant, looking guy.” The guy was not wearing any political clothing.

There you have it, folks. If you’re a white male around 30 years old and look nice or pleasant, you are officially “white supremacist looking” and you will have everyone and their woke grandma calling the cops to report reg flags up your ejection port.

Red Flag laws would allow people who are scared of people with their hands in their pockets and nice-looking 30-year-olds decide who gets to keep their guns.

So-called “assault weapon” bans are ridiculous. Universal background checks are ridiculous. “Gun Free Zones” are also known as target-rich environments and ridiculous. But Red Flag laws? They are the most invasive, least-liberty solution to gun violence anyone ever thought up.

Do not let anyone convince you that Red Flag laws will be good for America. Not in the immediate aftermath of a mass shooting. Not when the emotions die down and clear thinking returns. Not ever.

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