I’m not a fan of red flag laws at all.
On the surface, to be frank, I kind of want to be. I want to find some way to take guns from mass shooters before they do horrible things. On the surface, I really do.
However, the problem is that there’s no way to do that without infringing on people’s rights. We don’t really know who is a mass shooter in the making and who isn’t. That means a lot of innocent people are going to be messed with who shouldn’t be. Couple that with the whole due process thing, and it’s a freaking nightmare.
The problem is that some people don’t see that nightmare. They see just the surface, and then they defend the law in print.
The thing is, sometimes, their defense of the law illustrates a lot of the problems with that law.
The family of the 47-year-old man was very worried.
In the past year, they reported in February, he had struck his wife, stalked young girls, followed his sister’s boyfriend, threatened his brother and expressed sexual desires toward a sister. His brother told the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office that the man had a history of killing animals such as dogs, had attacked their father and had compiled a kill list of family members he wanted to see dead.
The man owned four handguns, including one “always on his person,” as well as three long guns, according to court records filed by a sheriff’s deputy.
Red flags, it seems, were everywhere.
But the man could not be charged with a specific crime. So the sheriff’s office asked a court to do something that until recently would have been impossible: take away the man’s firearms temporarily to prevent a potential tragedy.
In a written statement to the court, the man denied all of the claims of his family members, but a court commissioner was not persuaded. A one-year “extreme risk protection order” was granted in March, and the man was ordered to surrender his firearms.
That was one of 12 ERPOs that have been issued by Spokane courts since a new law took effect that allows family members, friends and law enforcement officials to petition a court to temporarily remove guns from people who are threatening themselves or others.
The problems here should be kind of obvious, but apparently not.
The man in question reportedly struck his wife. That’s domestic violence and a conviction renders one ineligible for owning a firearm. How, then, were police unable to make an arrest? The same with allegations of stalking young girls or other such threats?
See, these are all crimes being described. It’s criminal activity, yet police couldn’t make an arrest. Why?
Well, probably because there was insufficient evidence. That strikes me as odd considering the number of transgressions we’re seeing described. Yet despite the complete lack of evidence of any wrongdoing, the man’s family got a court to issue a red flag order.
In other words, with no evidence to support their allegations, the man’s family was able to infringe on his right to keep and bear arms.
Folks, we don’t know the truth of these allegations. I don’t know the man in question. Maybe he’s all the things his family says he is. However, maybe he’s someone who just pisses off his family and they are saying whatever they can to land him in hot water. Who knows for sure?
What I do know, however, is that nothing in that story does anything to change my opinion about red flag laws on little big.