The House of Representatives is going to keep passing gun control bills until the Democrats no longer control it. Regardless of what legislators and candidates may say, they’re going to continue to nibble away at our gun rights as much as they can for as long as they can.
One of the measures they recently passed was their red flag bill.
However, as Reason notes, it’s completely awful.
This week the House Judiciary Committee approved the Extreme Risk Protection Order Act. The legislation would provide grants to encourage the passage and enforcement of “red flag” laws, which are supposed to prevent people from possessing firearms when they are deemed a threat to themselves or others. The bill’s standards for grant eligibility vividly illustrate the due process issues raised by such laws. Far from encouraging states to include robust due process protections, the bill would encourage them to slap together the weakest elements of the existing statutes.
The original version of the bill, which was introduced by Rep. Salud Carbajal (D–Calif.) in February, included very loose criteria for red flag laws. An amendment by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D–N.Y.) made the bill even more permissive.
In Nadler’s version, petitioners—who, depending on the state, may include a long list of relatives and acquaintances as well as police officers and prosecutors—could obtain an ex parte gun confiscation order if a judge decides there is “reasonable cause” to believe the respondent “poses a danger of causing harm” to himself or others. That determination would be made without any input from the respondent, who at this stage is not notified and has no opportunity to rebut the claims against him. Contrary to the bill’s name, the danger the respondent allegedly poses would not need to be “extreme,” substantial, or even significant. Furthermore, no time frame is specified, so the risk would not have to be imminent, which you might think would be a requirement for an ex parte order.
The minimum standards prescribed by Nadler’s bill seem to have been crafted so that all the jurisdictions that already have red flag laws—17 states and the District of Columbia—could qualify for grants. The bill thus would lower the bar to the level of the jurisdictions with the weakest due process protections.
It’s a pretty long, in-depth piece and I recommend you go and read it for yourself. However, I should say that it’s not surprising that the House Democrats would structure a bill in such a way.
For me, I don’t think it’s so much a case of they intentionally wanting to do away with due process protections and more a case of simply not giving a damn. After all, it’s just gun owners. Who cares about their civil liberties, anyway?
Honestly, I think I could handle it being the result of maliciousness a bit better. At least then they’d know what they were doing was wrong and simply not care about it. The idea that it’s simply a lack of caring about our basic human rights…that implies possibilities well beyond the Second Amendment.
The truth is that red flag laws are an issue and will always be an issue especially if they lack due process protections. It probably doesn’t matter why they don’t include those protections, it only matters that our rights mean so damn little to them.