David Frum Unintentionally Makes A Case Against Red Flag Laws

David Frum Unintentionally Makes A Case Against Red Flag Laws

I’ve been talking to a lot of folks, gun owners and non-gun owners alike, about “red flag laws” over the past few days, and one thing is clear; those concerned about the procedure that would allow for the temporary removal of someone’s firearms have several valid concerns, including the fear that the law would be misused and abused by those who don’t like gun ownership in general.

Enter columnist David Frum; who loves the idea of red flag laws so much he apparently thinks they should be used against any gun owner who does something he doesn’t like.

Okay, so he’s open carrying three handguns. Is that a little odd to most people? Sure. Is it legal? We don’t know what state he’s in, but open carry is legal in more than 40 states across the nation, so odds are what he’s doing isn’t breaking any law. It’s certainly not dangerous, though I personally would be a little concerned about someone possibly grabbing the gun in the small of my back. Should we have a court hearing and take his guns away?  Umm… no. Next question?

I see a red, white, and blue flag, not a red flag. The only note of caution I’d have is to move that trigger finger away from the trigger guard a little more, though I think the shadows make it look like it’s closer than it actually is. Other than that, it looks like there’s a lot of people behind those kids who aren’t freaking out like David Frum is, so I’m gonna go ahead and rule this a “no red flag” situation.  Next question?

Okay, now I’m wondering if Frum is actually opposed to red flag laws, and is trying to tank support with his questions. I have news for David; someone saying something you don’t like, find crass, or even demeaning doesn’t make that person “dangerous”. If that were the standard 80% of us with social media accounts would have lost our rights long ago.

I’ve said before that I don’t support any red flag that I’ve seen written, primarily because of the lack of due process concerns and the lack of any sort of mental health treatment for those deemed a danger. What David Frum is doing here falls under “due process concerns”. How easy is it to throw the red flag, so to speak? Is it left to family? Do we expand the authority to teachers? Bosses? Friends? Fellow co-workers or students? Blue-checked Twitterers?

What happens if someone like David Frum files a frivolous complaint? Does he get trouble? Does he have to pay a fine? Does he face a criminal charge? Is there any recourse for the individual falsely accused?

I’d like to think it’s possible to craft a narrowly tailored tool that uses existing civil commitment standards (instead of the lowered standards we see for existing red flag laws), uses a medical diagnosis instead of a court hearing where the subject isn’t even present to be interviewed or present evidence, has strong due process guarantees (including, but not limited what I mentioned above), guarantees mental health services to someone deemed dangerous, is temporary (six months would be the upper limit of what I’d be comfortable with), does not prevent future gun ownership after the protective order has been lifted, and isn’t simply about taking someone’s guns away. Is it still a “red flag” bill if the focus is on the individual and getting them treatment, as opposed to just any guns they might own?

Show me something like that and I might actually support it. But what we’ve seen so far, including David Frum’s Twitter rant, only raise red flags of their own, at least to me.