AP Photo/Paul Sancya
One of the many problems with red flag laws is that they give law enforcement the power to disarm law-abiding citizens over virtually nothing. While sometimes it’s used by those with good intentions, it can be used maliciously as well. Despite all of that, support for red flag laws continues to grow.
Now, presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) is upping the ante on red flag laws.
Kamala Harris on Wednesday said if elected president she will press Congress to pass a red flag law that would allow law enforcement officials to temporarily seize the firearms of white nationalists that may be on the verge of carrying out a hate crime.
The Democratic presidential candidate’s proposal calls for the creation of “domestic terrorism prevention orders” that would give law enforcement and family members of suspected white nationalists or domestic terrorists the ability to petition a federal court to temporarily restrict a person’s access to guns if the person exhibits clear evidence of being a danger.
“We need to take action to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people and stop violent, hate-fueled attacks before they happen,” Harris said. “By focusing on confronting these domestic terror threats, we can save lives.”
Adam Skaggs, chief counsel to the gun control advocacy group Giffords, said that an individual making credible terrorist threats could be disarmed under statutes in existing red flag laws on the books in 17 states and the District of Columbia.
Or, you know, they could be arrested for making a terroristic threat, just a thought here.
What Harris is calling for is a way to punish people explicitly for holding unpopular opinions by taking their guns from them. While no one has sympathy for white nationalists, the problem is that we live in a world where everything is labeled racist, including the color of freaking robots. Anyone who has found themselves on the political Right has been called something ranging from racist to white nationalist sometime in the last decade at least.
This is the new world we live in, and the idea of a red flag law that targets someone’s thinking is legitimately troubling. The ideas of thoughtcrime and pre-crime are both born of science fiction dystopias, yet here’s Kamala Harris suggesting thought pre-crime.
While the report claims the person has to exhibit “clear evidence” of being a threat, that’s not how those laws work and, more importantly, there are already laws in place for people who do present clear evidence of being a threat to themselves or others. Using those mechanisms would work just as well as supposedly taking someone’s guns. They’d work better, in fact, since they take the dangerous person off the streets, thus preventing them from using something else as a weapon.
Unfortunately, this is par for the course from anti-gunners. If the laws on the books aren’t working due to non-enforcement or non-use, then clearly the issue is that there aren’t enough laws on the books. People like Harris latch onto this and try to use it.
If there’s any saving grace to this, it’s that Harris is looking more and more like she won’t be the Democratic nominee.