AP Photo/Evan Vucci
President Trump is making a lot of noise by suggesting he’d back some gun control bills. For pro-gun folks, this is very concerning, especially since even if he does, he’s still the better option for president come 2020. It puts gun rights advocates in an odd position of potentially having to reward someone for the bad behavior of backing gun control.
However, the president may have also done something that may significantly undermine red flag laws or, at the very least, illustrates our problems with such measures.
In and amongst Tuesday’s insanity was the discussion of a video showing CNN host Chris Cuomo dealing with someone who approached him on the streets. The verbal altercation had the potential to turn violent after Cuomo threatened to throw the other guy down the stairs. The video is all over the place so that you can find it easily enough.
Many people offered their opinions on the matter as it trended on Twitter.
As is his way, President Trump offered up his thoughts on the video.
Would Chris Cuomo be given a Red Flag for his recent rant? Filthy language and a total loss of control. He shouldn’t be allowed to have any weapon. He’s nuts!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 13, 2019
Now, Cuomo did lose his cool. He offered a verbal threat in return for what he claimed was a “racial slur,” despite it being no such thing. It’s not enough to rise to the level of being a red flag. Lots of people lose their cool without ever getting violent.
Trump’s suggestion illustrates the problem with red flag laws quite beautifully.
The problem with red flag laws is that they can be invoked far too easily over far too trivial a thing. For example, getting angry over a confrontation in front of your daughter, even if you overreact, shouldn’t lead to someone losing their right to keep and bear arms. Cuomo likely knows that he wasn’t a threat to anyone, yet Trump’s tweet suggests he was. Why would it be any different for anyone else?
For many, this is an example of Trump playing 12-D chess or something, a case of him undermining a piece of legislation with a simple tweet, potentially destroying all support for the measure.
I’m more inclined to think he was throwing a jab at a media personality he didn’t like and using the topic of the day to do so.
Regardless of why he said it, the ease in which someone can justify a red flag order is concerning. It should be. In theory, with a federal red flag order law in place, police could easily be at Chris Cuomo’s house right now, looking to see if he had any firearms. His family would face armed police rummaging through their home, looking for guns, making them feel like criminals over an altercation that wasn’t a real threat.
I doubt Cuomo would see the irony, especially as his brother has vehemently backed things like red flag laws, but others with more intellectual honesty should.
Red flag laws are nothing more than legalized swatting. They should be worried about it.
Hopefully, those who saw the president’s tweet will realize how dangerous such laws could be. Whether it was a stroke of genius or simply a byproduct of a president throwing shade at someone he doesn’t like, it was a beautiful tweet that should give all of us a little pause.