R.I. Governor Ignores Due Process With Executive Order To Seize Guns In 'Red Flag' Cases

Politicians seem to love knee-jerk responses. They routinely respond to tragedies with bills that are supposed stop future such tragedies from occurring, but rarely do much of anything. And then they pretend that they’re on the forefront of whatever it is their party is doing so they can make their base happy.

However, sometimes they go too far. Take, for example, the state of Rhode Island.

Rhode Island’s Democrat Gov. Gina Raimondo signed an executive order Monday directing authorities in the state to use all legal steps to remove firearms from the home of those they feel are a danger.

Raimondo’s action, signed before a crowd of gun control advocates, comes in tandem with a measure introduced in the state legislature to enact so-called extreme risk protective orders which would allow police to take guns from those a judge feels may be a threat to themselves or others. While the bill progresses to her desk, Raimondo said her executive action will help pave the way.

“We cannot wait a minute longer for Washington to take action to prevent gun violence,” Raimondo said. “The executive order I signed today is an immediate step we can take to make residents safer. It sets the table for a complementary legislative effort.”

The order directs state police to take steps consistent with “all applicable state and federal laws and regulations” to remove guns from the household of those that investigators believe pose a significant danger to themselves or others in a “red flag” report. The investigation would follow up on tips received about recent threats of violence such as posts or statements made on social media coupled with, say, evidence of access to firearms. State police, working with local law enforcement as a part of Raimondo’s order, would follow-up with the person reported by a tipster and conduct background checks and information searches before acting.

Now, I have no problem with an investigation taking place. If someone makes a threat, the police need to check it out. What I do have a problem with is the relatively low barrier required to take away someone’s lawfully owned firearms without an arrest even taking place.

If someone threatens to shoot up a school or a movie theater, then they are guilty of making a terroristic threat–something that’s typically a felony. That act alone, if convicted, renders them ineligible to own a firearm. At that point, the law is clear and taking their guns away is the legal course of action. Further, the accused got his due process prior to losing a constitutionally protected right.

However, if there are no grounds to make an arrest, then why are there grounds to take away someone’s guns? Other than saying some things that make people uncomfortable, there aren’t any, and we’re not required to make people comfortable with our thoughts and words. This is still the United States of America.

When there’s a threat, act on it, sure, but it’s important to balance the public’s safety with the individual’s sacred rights. Up in Rhode Island, they seem more than willing to ignore that, kind of like how they’re ignoring that a determined individual will still get their hands on a gun regardless of what the law says.