The biggest argument about red flag laws typically stems from their constitutionality. Most, as written, are a horrendous infringement on people’s due process rights. They assume the individual is guilty and take their guns, leaving it up to said individual to prove their innocence. That’s not how our legal system is supposed to work in the least and you’d think anyone with half a brain could see that.
Well, one would assume that those who make up the Florida Court of Appeals would have at least half a brain, and it seems they don’t see the issue.
A Florida appeals court upheld the state’s new “red flag” law enacted in the wake of the Parkland massacre, ruling that the statute was consistent with constitutional safeguards, a charge that gun-rights advocates have used to challenge these laws amid a broader push for gun control.
The case originates from a domestic dispute involving Gilchrist County Sheriff’s Deputy Jefferson Davis, who accosted his girlfriend, also a sheriff’s deputy, on the suspicion that she was having an affair with another man.
Now, David may not sound like the most sympathetic of subjects. Especially since he also confessed to the sheriff that he wanted to shoot his girlfriend’s other fellow in the face. Mentioning he considered using his duty weapon was probably not a good idea either.
Of course, wanting to do something and planning to do something are different things. People say things like that in anger all the time, and while I don’t personally think they should, they also shouldn’t have any of their civil liberties stripped.
Unfortunately, a red flag order was filed on Davis and his weapons taken.
Davis lodged his objection with Florida’s First District Court of Appeal, challenging the red flag law as on its face unconstitutional. Red flag laws are used by courts to temporarily disarm individuals who are believed to pose an imminent threat to themselves or others in relation to the presence of a firearm. While those laws have effectively been used in many high-profile instances in recent years, gun-rights supporters often allege that such legislation is unconstitutionally vague and does not allow defendants to justify their conduct before a weapon is confiscated.
The appeal argued that Florida’s red flag law is too unclear to be applied constitutionally, in part because it used the terms “significant danger” and “mental illness.” The court rejected that argument, finding that such terms are routinely used and can be further scrutinized with the aid of a dictionary if need be.
Davis also argued that the law deprives residents of their due process rights, another challenge that the judges disputed. The law requires a hearing upon any initial petition within 14 days, allowing for the case to be resolved relatively swiftly if a defendant is able to muster a sound argument.
So guilty until proven innocent is good enough, huh?
That’s what passes for “due process of law” these days, huh? Apparently so. To make matters worse is the fact that challenges to red flag laws appear to fail as a matter of course.
The Congressional Research Service, a non-partisan think tank commissioned by the U.S. Congress, noted that constitutional challenges to red flag laws have generally been unsuccessful. While the Second Amendment was recently determined to protect an individual’s right to carry, lawmakers have latitude to limit this right to law-abiding residents or for lawful purposes.
I honestly don’t see how that works, but that’s the world we live in. If you’re in Florida, don’t expect to see your red flag law disappear anytime soon. Based on this finding, that may well go for the rest of you folks living in states with such laws.
It seems the only way to beat them may just be to keep them from being passed.