|“Ted Deutch, a Democratic congressman from Florida who represents Parkland, where a February school shooting left 17 dead, said this week that he expected House Democrats to focus on bills with more bipartisan support. Those measures included bump stock bans and “extreme risk protection orders”, also known as red flag laws, which give law enforcement and family members a way to petition a court to temporarily bar an unstable person from buying or owning guns.”
What Are Red Flag Laws?
Red flag laws or Extreme Risk Protection Orders (ERPOs) are the euphemistic label for a variety of new proposed gun-control laws. Under red flag laws, law enforcement has the ability to confiscate an individual’s firearms who is deemed a threat to themselves or others. A simple accusation from a family member, friend, or associate will suffice to seize someone’s firearms.
These laws, mind you, operate in the absence of normal due process. The accused in these cases could have their weapons confiscated without even so much as a hearing a before a judge. It could take months before a gun owner could appear in court to win back his gun rights.
Thirteen states currently have red flag laws on the books. What started out as a state-level movement may have some legs at the federal level. Although it’s true that Congressional Democrats are making gun control a major theme of their legislative agenda, it’s naïve to think red flag laws are only relevant because of “gun-grabbing” Democrats have taken power.
As we’ll see below, red flag laws have a history of bipartisan support. And when any piece of legislation has Democrats and Republicans locking arms in agreement, you know trouble lies ahead.
The Gun Control Bipartisan Status Quo
Despite the passionate campaign rhetoric, a significant portion of Republican politicians will change colors on gun rights once in DC. Several GOP members in the upcoming Congress stick out like a sore thumb when it comes to their gun control advocacy:
Maryland’s red flag law has not been without its fair share of controversy.
At 5 a.m on Monday, November 5, two police officers came knocking on 61-year-old Gary Willis’ door to serve him a court order mandating that he turn over his guns. What seemed like a typical court order, quickly turned deadly as one of the cops shot and killed Willis in a struggle that ensued. Quick to defend one of his own, Anne Arundel County Police Chief Timothy Altomare defended the cops’ action by callously claiming that they “did the best they could with the situation they had.”
The tragic incident in Maryland is an ominous sign of what is to come should red flag laws gain more traction.
Whether or not Republicans will support new Red Flag laws is anyone’s guess. The bigger problem at hand is an ideological one, and opponents of gun control would do well to stop putting their faith in the winner-take-all electoral slugfest we see at the federal level every 4 years, and to embrace decentralization instead.