AP Photo/Alan Diaz
Gun control laws follow trends. Whatever is trendy in gun control circles is the law that anti-gunners in state legislatures are going to push. Right now, one of the most popular measures being advanced is the so-called “red flag laws.”
The idea is that guns get taken away from those who might be dangerous. Possibly for a number of reasons, but it might be because it lets them trot out the old line of “if you’re going to do nothing wrong, you have nothing to fear.”
Now, Michigan has a red flag bill under consideration.
Democrats in the Michigan House and Senate introduced bills on Thursday that would allow law enforcement officials to remove guns before a crisis happens, as part of an extreme risk protection order.
State Representative Robert Wittenberg says while previous red flag bills never successfully became law, he believes there is more bipartisan support for bills like this due to mass shootings that got national attention in the last year, such as the Parkland shooting.
“I look forward to working with all of my colleagues in the legislature and the Governor’s office and throughout the state to make sure our communities are safe, and residents get the help when they need it, in the moment,” State Senator Rosemary Bayer said on Thursday.
Too bad these laws don’t make anyone safer.
The two most recent high-profile shootings are probably Aurora, Illinois and Thousand Oaks, California. Guess what both of those states have? Red flag laws.
Guess what did nothing to stop those mass shootings? That’s right — red flag laws.
But proponents won’t mention that. Further, they’ll push for red flag laws to absolve their guilt:
One advocate says she wishes she had a bill like this in 2014, the year her father died from a suicide by firearm. Celeste Kanpurwala says she saw the red flags and believes this law would have saved his life.
And yet, most states will also allow loved ones to petition the court to commit someone to a psychiatric facility if they represent a harm to themselves or others. If these “red flags” were so pronounced, why didn’t Kanpurwala act within the laws already on the books?
Now, I’m not implying she’s responsible for her father’s suicide. Only he is responsible for that.
But I could see her support for this law as being an aspect of survivor’s guilt.
Not that it matters, because like so many other times when red flag laws are pointed to as solutions, we can see that such solutions already exist and weren’t used. Kanpurwala’s father wasn’t committed involuntarily for being suicidal, though she claims there were red flags there. The Parkland killer wasn’t arrested and charged with domestic violence, a charge that would have barred him from buying a gun in the first place. The Aurora shooter was a convicted felon and shouldn’t have had a gun at all.
Time and time again, we see the laws on the books fail, not because they’re too weak but because they’re not used. Then, lawmakers decide the problem is that there aren’t enough laws, so they push for more as if that will suddenly make things better, but as pointed out, we can look to two mass shootings in states with red flag laws that did nothing to stop the killings.
Maybe it’s time for them to step back and recognize that.