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The Confusion About Red Flags

Bob Rogers

Monday, June 04, 2018 – Following the Stoneman Douglas shooting in Parkland, Florida Americans far and wide, regardless of their political affiliation, were upset that law enforcement and the FBI let the shooter slip through the cracks. There was ample warning. The young shooter was known to have psychological problems and boasted on social media about wanting to kill his fellow students.  Yet, nothing was done to stop him  until he had killed 17 of his classmates. Days later, anger erupted among parents of the dead and wounded students, involved law enforcement and federal authorities. With no immediate solutions forthcoming, everyone wanted to know what could have been done to intercept the shooter prior to his murderous spree. One solution was the establishment of so-called “red flag” laws.  Some states have now already enacted them to the disgust of the NRA. Now many others, including gun owners and some NRA members want to know why.

At first thought, red flags, a sort of anticipation screening of people suspected of having mental or emotional issues, should be a no-brainer. The warning signs are there, but most people just don’t want to get involved. Many of those that do only want to focus on the idea of gun control as the ultimate remedy. That’s what gets the NRA in defense mode. The NRA, et al, are not necessarily opposed to pre-event warning signs but, given the record of gun control advocates to jump at any – even tiny – opportunity to eliminate guns from society, the NRA is always suspicious of gun control motivators. The core of their concern is the caveat called “due process.”

Due process, simply, requires judicial responsibility to assure that any red flag assigned individual is legally adjudicated as having mental or physical conditions that could cause the subject to go off the socially accepted rails of law-abiding responsibility before the fact of a criminal action. That puts the onus of responsibility where it belongs: on legal responsibility oversight. As long as the state through its judicial system is being held accountable for flagging an individual as in some way irresponsible for his or her actions, neither the NRA nor anyone else will complain.  But when the red flag tag is used carte blanche as an excuse to limit the constitutionality of gun ownership, we all – NRA included – will continue to rail against its mass appeal as a means to intercept the infringement of the right to keep and bear arms.

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