I’ve long said that the biggest problem with red flag laws is that the judge makes a decision based on what a third party says about a person, even though that third party is almost never a recognized expert on psychology or any other relevant field. As such, it seems like there’s almost nothing to prevent the orders from just being handed out like candy on Halloween.
However, a judge in Colorado did something we really don’t hear much about.
For the first time, a judge has denied a request to take away a man’s guns under Colorado’s new red flag law. A Limon woman claimed a man who she had a relationship with threatened her with a gun and filed the request.
CBS4 obtained the request for a temporary extreme risk protection order filed in Limon. A woman wrote she was getting “verbal and physical threats” with a handgun from the man identified in the order.
She said he had a problem with alcohol and marijuana. The judge denied the request to take his guns.
“I think it’s a good thing. I think any other new law you’re going to have a lot of case law to determine exactly where the lines are,” said Gruenberg, a gun owner not associated with the case.
I agree, it’s good to see.
However, proponents are reading too much into this one.
But the denial led state Rep. Alec Garnett, a co-sponsor of the bill, to say this shows it is being applied properly.
The problems, however, didn’t just disappear. The judge is still just one person and he still hasn’t even seen the person in question. Just because this case had a judge who didn’t buy what was being offered doesn’t mean the system works.
For example, the same judge with the same evidence could just as easily granted the order. There’s no standard of evidence really required for these cases, just someone saying they’re scared. There are no experts testifying that yes, Joe Blow is a risk to himself or others. Really, there’s nothing except “he said/she said” testimony.
Additionally, let’s also keep in mind that this is the first time most any of us have heard of one being denied.
You see, another part of the problems with red flag laws is the mere use of them by anyone is being held up as proof that they work. However, we don’t hear about the denials. Are there any? We know it’s the first time a judge in Colorado has denied a red flag request, but is this the first one anywhere in the nation? We honestly don’t know, and that’s an issue as well.
Frankly, we don’t even know why this one was denied.
What we do know, however, is that way too many people are being stripped of their rights when they’ve broken no laws, simply because someone says they’re a threat. That should never be the case because anyone can make up anything. This judge appears to have seen through that, but what about the next judge?