MD Uses Red Flag Laws More Than Most

The state of Maryland isn’t exactly a gun-friendly state. While they’re not as bad as some when it comes to guns, that’s not exactly a difficult bar to clear. By any objective measure, they’re an anti-gun state.

Officials there aren’t fond of regular folks having firearms, and that matters. It matters a great deal.

After all, when you state has a mechanism to remove guns from people, the natural biases of those empowered with that authority simply has to be considered as coming into play.

Now, it seems Maryland uses their red flag laws more than most other states.

Two years after taking effect, Maryland’s extreme risk gun law has been used far more than similar laws in most states that have implemented them in recent years, according to experts and a Baltimore Sun data analysis.

Nineteen states and Washington, D.C., have enacted such so-called “red flag laws,” a term discouraged by mental health advocates due to the stigma attached to the term. Specifics of the laws vary state by state, but they generally allow law enforcement to temporarily take firearms from or ban the sale of firearms to people deemed to be a risk to themselves or others.

Don’t you kind of wish mental health advocates would also recognize the stigma attached to stripping someone who has been convicted of no crime of their constitutionally-protected rights?

Anyway, moving on…

In Maryland, law enforcement, family members, cohabitants, intimate partners and medical professionals can petition the court for these orders. A judge first decides whether a temporary order is warranted before a later hearing on a final order, which can take away firearms for up to a year.

Adjusted per capita and per day in effect, Maryland courts have issued the second most such orders out of the wave of states that have implemented similar laws since 2016, according to available data obtained by The Sun.

In the two years since the law took effect Oct. 1, 2018, Maryland courts has granted 989 extreme risk protective orders, an average of about 8.2 orders per year per 100,000 residents. Only Florida has used it more, about 9.4 orders per 100,000 residents. Maryland has used it twice as much as the next-highest state, New Jersey.

The data was adjusted on a per-capita, per-day basis to account for population, how long the laws had been in effect and small discrepancies in data provided by the states. The Sun was not able to obtain complete data for Washington state in time for publication, the only state with a new law that’s missing from the analysis.

So, when you normalize for everything so you can make an apples-to-apples comparison, Maryland is jumping all over this at a prodigious rate.

Now, again, these are people who haven’t been convicted of any crime and aren’t even seen by a mental health professional prior to having their gun rights stripped from them. Instead, people who lack any mental health training can say these people represent some kind of a threat and a court consisting of a judge with no mental health training and who doesn’t even see the person in question strips them of their God-given rights to keep and bear arms.

Sure. That makes perfect sense.

To me, though, the worst part is crap like this:

Researchers, law enforcement departments, gun safety advocates and elected officials think Maryland’s high rate of usage means the law is working to prevent potential suicides, violence and mass shootings. Gun rights groups argue it undermines due process rights.

In other words, the fact that it’s being used is the only metric they need to gauge whether or not its a success. That’s it.

However, there are questions. First, how many of those who had their gun rights stripped represented an actual threat to themselves or others and not just someone who weirded out their partner, roommate, or cop? Where’s that discussion?

Or, how many had their rights stripped only for the court to learn they didn’t actually represent a threat?

See, none of that seems to get brought up. Instead, they create a law that allows people to strip the rights from another, then tout its use as evidence. What they didn’t note was that at least one person has been killed because of the red flag law.

Frankly, Maryland using the law more than other states with similar laws isn’t something that should be bragged about. It’s an abridgement of people’s rights and any state with such a law should be ashamed of it.