Red flag laws are all the rage in gun control circles, but there’s usually stiff opposition to them when the rubber meets the road. The fact is, while the idea of taking guns from the truly dangerous sounds appealing, most people take serious issue with the way most of these bills look to implement the idea.
Pennsylvania is a state where just that is happening. In fact, the opposition is apparently fierce enough that the bill’s author is considering making some changes to try to make the concept more palatable.
A Republican lawmaker from the Philadelphia suburbs says he is considering changes to legislation that would give law enforcement the power to seize people’s guns if a court determines they are a risk to themselves or others.
Under the current draft of state Sen. Tom Killion’s legislation, a family member who makes false allegations while asking a court to temporarily remove someone’s gun rights could be charged with a second degree misdemeanor.
Following feedback from two days of Senate Judiciary Committee hearings last week, Killion said he’s considering boosting the penalty for a false allegation to a felony.
“That’s something we may want to look at — put more teeth into it,” Killion said during a Tuesday panel discussion at the Chadds Ford Township Municipal Building in Delaware County. “False claim — you’re going after a constitutional right. That’s a serious, serious matter.”
Killion said upping the penalty for a false allegation would address concerns that an angry ex-spouse or partner would make false claims to obtain an extreme risk protection order as payback.
To be fair to Killion, that’s an excellent start. Such protections need to have some serious teeth in them if they’re going to dissuade anyone from making a false allegation.
Yet there’s a better idea. How about not passing a red flag law in the first place?
Over the last month or so, we’ve seen numerous stories of mass shootings that have been thwarted by people reporting the behavior they used to just dismiss. Several mass shootings were averted and in none of those cases were red flag laws even used. They simply used the laws already on the books and arrested them.
The benefit of this approach is that it pulls the homicidal maniac off the street completely rather than leaving them free to simply find another way to kill dozens of people.
I know, I know, it’s a radical idea. I mean, the laws are already out there and fully capable of stopping mass shootings and we’ve had several mass shooters who should have been stopped beforehand but people just dismissed the future killers as real threats for whatever reason. Once people stopped doing that, guess what happened? They caught people first.
It’s a freaking miracle, isn’t it?
Look, if you’re going to have a red flag law, then yes, there needs to be some serious teeth to any clause that’s designed to prevent abuse. However, we’ve also seen that such laws aren’t remotely necessary. Killion would be better served by just scrapping his bill entirely and perhaps reminding people that if someone is talking about a mass killing, report it to the authorities as well as reminding the authorities to take such reports seriously. If there’s nothing there, no big deal. If there is, though, a lot of lives could be saved.