While San Diego Sheriff Bill Gore has surprised a lot of Second Amendment supporters by not attempting to shut down gun stores during California’s shelter-in-place order, virtually no one is shocked that San Diego City Attorney Mara Elliott is doing all she can to remove firearms from homes thanks to the state’s red flag law. The city attorney’s office says nearly 50 Extreme Risk Protection Orders have been filed since early March.
Fox 5 in San Diego reports that Elliott’s office has been busy, with 20 of the red flag orders filed since April 1st.
“Law enforcement is taking threats of violence during this pandemic very seriously and dangerous behavior will not be excused as an unavoidable result of intense anxiety or confinement to close quarters,” City Attorney Mara W. Elliott said. “If you or a loved one are threatened by a person who has access to firearms, please contact the police immediately.”
Among the recent cases are two active-duty Marines, one of whom purchased firearms and told family members he was going to shoot child traffickers and another who said in a social media post that he wanted to go to his old high school and shoot people who were “mean” to him, according to the City Attorney’s Office.
Other ERPO orders have been granted against people who are accused of domestic violence, according to Elliott’s office.
One man beat his pregnant girlfriend in front of their toddler and was arrested by police. In another case, an 82-year-old man with dementia was arrested and served with a GVRO after attacking his wife when she refused to withdraw $100,000 from their bank account. A pair of brothers came to blows and threats of gun violence while arguing over the care of their elderly parents, according to the City Attorney’s Office.
Other cases involved threats to nearby residents, including one man who attacked his neighbors over a parking spot, while another fired a gun off in his apartment and later told police “he became overwhelmed by his fear of COVID-19 while smoking methamphetamine,” the City Attorney’s Office reported.
One commonality in the specific cases highlighted by Elliott’s office is that it sure sounds like the individuals subject to the red flag orders are accused of actual crimes, which begs the question of why the red flag law even needed to come into play. Whether it’s a domestic violence charge or smoking meth, the judge in these cases could order that these individuals not possess firearms as a condition of their bail. Instead of taking that step, however, the city attorney is choosing to pursue red flag orders, which will prevent these individuals from possessing a firearm even if their charges are dismissed or they’re acquitted.
The courts in San Diego are closed to the public at the moment, but that doesn’t make much of a difference when it comes to red flag orders, since the subject of the orders aren’t allowed to defend themselves during the initial hearing. In fact, they’re not even aware that the hearing is taking place. Instead, the first time they’ll learn that they’re now the subject of an Extreme Risk Protection Order is when their firearms are seized. A couple of weeks later they’ll get their day in court.
While the San Diego City Attorney says she’s had nearly 50 ERPOs approved since early March, she doesn’t say if any requests were actually denied. It seems amazing that Elliott would go 46-for-46, but that may be the case. If so, is it really because all 46 of these individuals pose a real danger to themselves or others, or is it because judges are simply rubber-stamping their approval of the applications because it’s better for them to err on the side of taking people’s guns away?
And of course if these individuals really are a danger to themselves or others, simply taking their firearms from them isn’t likely to address the real issue, which is the dangerous individual, not the inanimate object they might own. Take the case of the man who allegedly beat his pregnant girlfriend in front of their toddler, for example. If the facts as alleged are true, then this guy’s a danger to his girlfriend whether or not he has guns. It’s him who really needs to be removed from the home and kept under lock and key.
The same is true for those subject to red flag laws because of suicidal threats. We already know that in states like Indiana and Connecticut, which have had red flag laws on the books for years, suicides are still increasing. Guns may be taken, but lives are still being lost, because red flag laws go after guns instead of actually dealing with the individual who may pose a risk to themselves or others.