California’s had a “red flag” gun seizure law on the books since 2016, but apparently it’s not being used often enough for gun control activists. The UC-Davis Violence Prevention Research Program, a state-funded anti-gun “research” center headed up by longtime gun control activist Dr. Garen Wintemute, is out with a new report calling on the state to increase funding for the implementation of Extreme Risk Protection Orders that allow the state to confiscate the firearms of anyone a judge deems to be a danger to themselves or others.
I wrote about the due process dangers and the lack of a mental health focus inherent in these red flag laws yesterday, so I won’t re-litigate those arguments here. I do find it interesting, however, that even in California these laws apparently aren’t that popular, and haven’t even been used in many counties. Wintemute and his colleagues chalk that up to a lack of information about red flag laws among law enforcement agencies and the general public, but I think they’re unfairly discounting the idea that in many counties, there’s not a lot of support for red flag gun confiscations.
In order to conduct their “research,” Wintemute and his colleagues conducted “semi-structured interviews” with ” 27 key informants, including judges, law enforcement officers, city and district attorneys, policy experts, and firearm violence researchers” to talk about how well (or not) red flag petitions are being implemented. No number crunching involved here, just subjective interviews with folks, the vast majority of whom have undoubtably already come to the conclusion that red flag laws are valuable and needed “gun safety” tools. In fact, the study authors admit as much:
Potential key informants were selected due to their experience with or demonstrated knowledge of GVROs (e.g., through published reports). They were identified through professional relationships with the authors, activity in the gun violence prevention community, public records indicating involvement in the service or disposition of GVROs, and by recommendation from other informants.
Was there a single stakeholder interviewed who has a knowledge of “Gun Violence Restraining Orders” but who thinks they’re a bad idea? Given the fact that (according to Wintemute) only 14 of California’s 58 counties had enforced a red flag gun seizure order between 2016 and 2020, it shouldn’t have been difficult to find a sheriff or D.A. with an opinion contrary to those writing the report. It sounds to me like these “researchers” simply weren’t interested in hearing another point of view. And why would they, if they already knew that the gist of the report was going to be “red flag laws are good, but here’s how they could be better”?
So the state-funded “research” center came to the completely unsurprising conclusion that more state funds are needed to improve how Gun Violence Restraining Orders are implemented. Any problems with the law (including the fact that in 50% of cases handled by one police officer, individuals refused to give up their guns) can be addressed by throwing money at it. Or rather, any problems that the gun control lobby and their political allies are willing to acknowledge can have more tax dollars thrown at it. Inherent defects like a lack of counsel for those who can’t afford to hire an attorney or a low legal standard for a finding of dangerousness, on the other hand, can be brushed aside and ignored completely.
If this sounds more like propaganda than research, I’m with you. Unfortunately, we can expect this same gun control advocacy disguised as objective science to soon be coming from our federal government, not just anti-gun academics in California, thanks to the CDC’s newfound interest in researching “gun violence.” Millions of dollars have already been appropriated to various academics around the country who’ll soon be issuing reports of their own that either lavish praise on gun control laws already in place in some states or warn of the dire consequences of not imposing those restrictions on the right to keep and bear arms. It’s far more junk than science, and unfortunately its our tax dollars (well, more like our grandchildren’s tax dollars at this point, given how much we’re borrowing) that’s paying for it.