AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File
While I’ve never been a fan of Lindsey Graham as a Senator, I did enjoy watching him get fired up during the Kavanaugh hearings. The South Carolina Republican was as feisty as I’ve ever seen him and I was looking upon him with newfound respect.
Too bad that didn’t last.
After all, I find it difficult to back any lawmaker who is willing to back red flag laws. However, in Graham’s defense, he does claim to care about a few things that other red flag bills don’t.
Senate Judiciary Committee chair Lindsey Graham told BuzzFeed News he will start crafting legislation next week to expand police powers to preemptively seize firearms from people believed to be a danger to themselves or others.
Graham is angling to get bipartisan support for his bill, and has been in discussions with Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal. Neither would outline specifics Thursday beyond saying it will be an original piece of legislation. Graham said work on hammering out the contents of the bill will begin next week.
Despite a string of mass shootings in recent years, Congress has not taken action on any significant new gun control measures, only authorizing funding to improve the national background checks system.
Graham told BuzzFeed News on Thursday his bill will provide grants to states that pass extreme risk protection orders, or ERPOs. Also known as “red flag laws,” they allow judges to authorize police to temporarily seize a person’s guns, with no advance notice, if there are grounds to believe the person may commit a violent act.
“I’m seeking to incentivize states to produce extreme risk protective order legislation that has ample due process but also is meaningful in protecting the public from somebody who is dangerous,” said Graham.
However, I’ll give Graham credit for at least paying lip service to due process. That’s something that’s missing from every single red flag bill we’ve seen so far.
The problem is, it doesn’t go far enough.
Red flag laws also need provisions that offer stiff penalties for those who use extreme risk protective orders maliciously. As it stands, pretty much anyone can get anyone else’s guns taken away with just a few words in states with these in place. It becomes an attractive way to punish people for holding wrong opinions, for example.
I’ve referred to these as legalized swatting, and I hold to that.
Due process protections, coupled with harsh penalties for those who misuse these measures would go a long way to making many on the pro-gun side feel a bit more comfortable with things like this. We’re probably never going to like them, though. After all, you’re taking away people’s guns based on things that might do. There’s nothing about that anyone should like.
We’ll have to see what Graham offers up. Until we see it, I’m going to play the odds and figure it to be a gigantic crap-sandwich. If I’m wrong, awesome, but let’s be honest here. The chances of this being a fantastic bill are about the same as Amy Schumer becoming funny.
In other words, don’t hold your breath.