AP Photo/Elaine Thompson
Red flag laws are all the rage. Bills seem to be popping up in every state in the union except for those that already have them. More importantly, they have a broad range of support as the media’s done a masterful job of convincing people they’re needed.
Minnesota is one step closer to joining the ranks of those states which have passed such laws already.
Gun owners believed to pose significant risk to themselves or others could have their firearms temporarily removed under a proposal advancing through the Minnesota Legislature.
The House Judiciary Finance and Civil Law Division on a 10-7 vote advanced a so-called “red flag” bill, which would allow family members, law enforcement officers and government attorneys to seek court orders taking away guns from persons determined to be an “extreme risk” if living in a home with guns.
Public safety and health officials, gun control advocates, a police chief and a county attorney spoke in favor of the bill, saying it could reduce the number of suicides and other gun-related deaths in the state.
Opponents, including gun owners, gun rights activists, a criminal defense attorney and a Minneapolis reverend said the bill wouldn’t reduce instances of suicide or gun violence in the state. And they said it could remove a gun owner’s due process rights.
“When you only listen to one side of the story, you don’t get the full picture,” said Rob Doar, Minnesota Gun Owners Caucus political director. “That’s far too low of a bar to restrict the Second Amendment right or any civil right.”
Doar is completely correct.
The problem with red flag laws is that it allows one person to make a case that results in someone being stripped of their constitutional right with no ability to respond or face their accuser until after the fact, nothing.
Plus, for all this talk about suicide, I can’t help but wonder if these laws will end up making the problem worse.
You see, a gun owner dealing with some depression may currently be willing to discuss suicidal thoughts with loved ones. However, if they believe they’ll lose their guns, they may decide to keep their mouths shut. If someone is that badly depressed, who wins by them opting to stay quiet? No one, that’s who.
Yet that’s going to happen. It’ll happen a lot. People who would ordinarily have gotten support and treatment will now likely suffer in isolation, possibly to the point where they take their own life.
The Law of Unintended Consequences is a thing, after all.
Couple that with Doar’s remarks and all the ways such a law could be misused and you have the recipe for a Grade-A clusterflop. These bills need to be reconsidered and rescinded, not made all that much more common.
It’s only too bad that we’re not likely to see that happen in the near term. With luck, Minnesota can escape this fiasco, though I’m not holding my breath just now.