I’ve written before about the contradiction between the “Defund Police” movement and the calls for new gun control laws, which, at the moment, is seeing a pretty large overlap between the two groups. How do you enforce new gun laws with a defunded police department? Should we be adding new gun control laws to the books when current enforcement typically results in disproportionate numbers of arrests for minorities? These are pretty big questions that so far haven’t been answered by gun control activists or those pushing to defund or abolish police departments. Here’s another: how do you plan on enforcing “red flag” or Extreme Risk Protection Orders?
When a red flag firearms seizure order is signed by a judge, it’s up to local police to serve that order on the individual in question. In some states, officers are empowered to immediately seize any legally-owned firearms, while in other states the individual may have a short period of time to lawfully transfer their firearms to someone for safekeeping, or can make arrangements to “voluntarily” hand over their firearms in lieu of having them forcibly seized. In either case, however, it’s law enforcement, not mental health experts, who are responsible for dealing with someone who’s been deemed by a judge to potentially be a danger to themselves or others.
In fact, while gun control groups like Moms Demand Action and Everytown for Gun Safety have been calling for police reform, including the use of more mental health professionals to deal with at-risk individuals, they continue to push for “red flag” laws that don’t even mention the words “mental health.”
In Virginia, for example, no doctor, nurse, or mental health counselor will ever evaluate the subject of a potential Extreme Risk Protection Order. The process is conducted entirely through the legal system.
Under Virginia’s proposed law, judges or magistrates could issue an emergency order allowing police to seize a subject’s guns if an investigation determines that person poses “a substantial risk of personal injury to himself or others in the near future.” Within 14 days, a court hearing would be held to determine whether a more long-term order is justified. At that hearing, a judge could decide to return the guns or extend the order for up to 180 days, with additional extensions possible if authorities believe the threat of violence has not diminished with time.
Everytown is currently lobbying for things like the Justice in Policing Act, which it calls “an important step forward in stopping police brutality and gun violence” (how, exactly it would stop gun violence they never do say), all while pushing to empower the police to disarm Americans not accused of a crime and without any kind of mental health evaluation whatsoever. In fact, the judge who will decide whether or not there’s a reasonable suspicion that someone is a danger to themselves or others will never even see the subject of the petition before making their ruling.
It’s the height of hypocrisy for Everytown to be demanding police reform when it continues to push for Red Flag laws that don’t even have room for a psychiatrist to examine someone before the cops come to take their guns away. We’ve already seen how enforcement of these laws can have fatal consequences, and I haven’t seen any gun control groups demanding greater transparency when the subject of a red flag order is shot by police, as in the case of Duncan Lemp, who was shot and killed by police in Potomac, Maryland in March while serving a red flag order. As Montgomery Community Media recently reported:
It has been almost three months since a Potomac man was fatally shot by a member of the Montgomery County Police Department Tactical Unit, but many details surrounding the case still have not been made public.
Since the March 12 death police-involved shooting of 21-year-old Duncan Lemp in his bedroom, the name of the officer who fired the fatal shots, autopsy results and any police camera video has yet to be released.
MCPD used a special warrant that allowed its officers to enter the home in the 12200 block of St. James Road in Potomac without first knocking.
The investigation has been turned over to the Howard County State’s Attorney’s Office, as is the normal procedure, to avoid Montgomery County officials from investigating their own and to avoid any appearance of a conflict of interest.
When asked about the status of the case, Yolanda Vazquez, external affairs director at the Howard County’s SAO, only replied, “The Duncan Lemp case is currently under investigation by our office.”
Attorneys for Lemp’s family say the man was shot by officers while he was sleeping. The MCPD disputes that, saying that Lemp confronted officers and was shot. Release of the body cam footage would go a long way towards shedding some light on what really happened, but once again, the folks at Everytown seem strangely uninterested in getting any answers, despite their newfound appreciation for police reform and accountability.