Questions To Ask about Red Flag Laws
By Brent Regan
Very many “good ideas” fail to qualify as such when the specifics of their application are examined. Before accepting a Red Flag Law as a “good idea” or an “obvious solution” to prevent people from killing other people, you may wish to ask the following questions.
How do you determine that a person is sufficiently mentally unstable to warrant not allowing them to have a gun because they may hurt people? What is the clear standard? Where is the bright line that is obvious to the common man? Failure to have a clear standard of guilt is sufficient to disqualify a bill from being passed into law.
If a person is sufficiently mentally unstable to want to hurt people, can that person use something other than a gun to hurt people such as a car or a knife or a pipe bomb?
If a person is sufficiently mentally unstable to want to hurt people, can they be trusted to turn over any firearms they posses?
If a person is sufficiently mentally unstable to want to hurt people how are they not sufficiently mentally unstable to warrant directed counseling and treatment? In other words, if a person were morbidly obese would a satisfactory solution be to only restrict them from eating ice cream or should you address the overarching problem?
Is the state prepared to conduct a thorough search for firearms of the residence, workplace, and all places frequented by a person determined sufficiently mentally unstable to want to hurt people? All closets, cabinets, crawl spaces, ducts, vehicles, etc…
Is the state prepared to defend the inevitable litigation that will result from the infringement of a right specifically enumerated as “shall not be infringed”?
Will the proposed legislation have provisions for punishing false accusers that initiate an investigation of a person not mentally unstable? Red Flag Laws are essentially a legal form of “swatting”.
Are you prepared to have your political opponents use these laws to harass you?
Mass shootings are essentially murder – suicides. Would the funding needed to enforce Red Flag Laws be more effectively used, and save far more lives, if it was used to treat mental illness and suicide prevention?
What will prevent the definition of “sufficiently mentally unstable to want to hurt people” to be stretched to include speech that does not advocate violence, but some find “painful”? Or amended and expanded to include a majority of people?
Our legal system is largely based on the philosophy articulated by Benjamin Franklin “That it is better 100 guilty Persons should escape than that one innocent Person should suffer, is a Maxim that has been long and generally approved.” How is a Red Flag Law not a direct violation of this maxim? Is it not an infringing on a right based on the presumption of guilt?
To date, increasing gun regulation has been accompanied by an increase in mass shootings. Cities with the highest regulation also have the highest violence rates. Should a Red Flag Law be created to address the due process issues, the abuse issues, and the cost issues, why would it not fail at its stated objective, just as every prior gun regulation has failed?
By focusing on the gun we fail to focus on the root problem, mental illness. Is time to take on this difficult mental health problem in earnest?
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