A 'Good Faith' Rebuttal to Kentucky's 'Red Flag' Proposal

AP Photo/Michael Conroy

A proposal to enact a “red flag” law in Kentucky is almost certainly headed to defeat when the 2024 legislative session kicks off in a couple of weeks, and supporters of the plan are already crying foul after a committee hearing to discuss the bill. Gun control advocate Teri Carter has penned a screed bemoaning the supposed “disinterest in discussing mental health” on the part of most Republican lawmakers, even though the “Crisis Aversion and Rights Retention” legislation doesn’t contain the phrase “mental health” anywhere in the bill’s text. It’s basically your standard “red flag” law, with one exception; the ability to use a court-appointed attorney if the subject of the red flag petition can’t afford their own.


In her diatribe, Carter described a hateful message shared by sponsor and Republican state senator Whitney Westerfield calling him a “RINO piece of s**t trader” for backing the CARR Act, and took issue with another X user pointing out that open and concealed carry is allowed in the Kentucky state capitol, but found very little complain about in the hearing itself… with one odd exception. Maryann Elliott, whose husband was murdered in the Old National Bank shootings in Louisville (an act committed by a deranged gun control fan) was told by a security guard that if she left the hearing room to use the restroom, she couldn’t come back in; not because of any animosity towards Elliott, but because rules are rules.

There are times when we are left stunned. Have we reached the stage where a respected, conservative, Second Amendment supporting, Republican lawmaker — the chair of judiciary, no less — cannot introduce a bill addressing gun violence and mental health without getting messages that he is a “RINO piece of shit”? Have we reached the stage where elected officials, the alleged adults at the table, refuse to participate in basic discussions?

Have we reached the stage where Kentuckians whose lives have been upended by gun violence cannot attend a hearing at our state capitol without being stuffed into the room with citizens who have been randomly summoned via social media to carry guns, just because they can?

Have we reached the stage where something as simple as a bathroom break for a widow cannot be granted?


Well, we’ve apparently reached the stage where gun control activists would rather complain about uncouth emails and folks lawfully exercising their Second Amendment rights (not to mention the “no return” policy for attendees at legislative hearings) instead of having that “meaningful discussion” she insists she wants to have.

I’m all in favor of discussing mental health, including the fact that the Crisis Aversion and Rights Retention has nothing to do with mental health, but I don’t think that Carter wants a substantive debate over the efficacy of “red flag” laws. It seems to me that instead, she wants to paint gun owners as unreasonably opposed to a “common sense” measure that would strip people of their Second Amendment rights for up to a year if a judge determines they pose a threat to themselves or others, while leaving the supposedly dangerous people alone after any legally-owned guns are taken away.

The Crisis Aversion and Rights Retention Act is a gun control bill, plain and simple. There’s no mental health component to the legislation whatsoever, either in terms of making a diagnosis or providing treatment to someone determined to be a danger to themselves or others. The warped logic behind the CARR Act is “take the guns away and the problem is solved,” which is most certainly not the case.


There have been very few studies done on the effectiveness of “red flag” laws, in part because their efficacy is really impossible to measure, but one report that looked at suicide rates in Indiana and Connecticut found a slight reduction in overall homicides in the Hoosier State, but an increase in suicides overall in Connecticut. That’s hardly convincing evidence that “red flag” laws are effective, but it’s probably the best argument that gun control advocates have at their disposal.

It’s perfectly reasonable to object to “red flag” laws, and there’s a wide variety of reasons to do so; due process or Second Amendment concerns and the lack of any mental health component among them. If Carter truly wants to address those in the grips of a mental health crisis, how about focusing on the acute shortage of mental health care workers in the state instead of billing a gun control bill as some sort of vitally important mental health measure?

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