Red flag laws are controversial in general. We all know the problems with these by now, particularly the lack of due process and the complete inability of the legislature to provide meaningful disincentives for false reporting. This is especially true of Florida’s red flag law, a measure passed in haste by a state body desperate to “do something” in the wake of Parkland.
However, it seems the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette thinks it would be a swell model for the rest of the nation.
The decision by an appeals court in Florida to uphold the constitutionality of a “red flag” law should give a boost to federal lawmakers leaning toward passing such legislation.
The three-judge panel agreed that “the need to thwart the mayhem and carnage contemplated by would-be perpetrators does represent an urgent and compelling state interest.”
The Florida appellate decision should guide other states as well as the federal government to take this modest step toward saving lives.
Yeah, it’s not like there’s anything jacked up about Florida’s red flag laws. I mean, it’s not like are a bunch of children who are under red flag orders or anything, now are there?
First, let’s address the constitutionality of it really quickly. An appeals court upholding the law is a key win for red flag law supporters, to be sure, but that doesn’t mean it’s actually constitutional by any stretch of imagination. In fact, that argument made by the appeals court could well be dismissed by higher courts as it could be used to justify any manner of tyranny. For example, our phones could be tapped without a warrant because the state needed “to thwart the mayhem and carnage” being discussed by “would-be perpetrators” of potential attacks…even if such “attacks” were raids in a video game.
I’m sorry, but that argument doesn’t cut it.
Second, there’s the very real fact that we have little evidence that red flag laws actually work as they’re supposed to. So far, the only evidence cited for the success of such laws is how many people are under these orders. However, as noted above, freaking children are under these orders in Florida, kids who can’t legally own a gun anyway.
How many people make a comment while upset that they wouldn’t actually follow through with? A lot. I know I’ve done it and I know I’m not alone. Yet this can now get you hit with a red flag order, even if you don’t own any firearms.
This is not evidence of them working.
What it is, though, is evidence that they’re misapplied quite often. I’m sorry, but if they’re applied to countless cases where anyone who looks at it with any critical thinking skills should be able to tell these aren’t actual threats, then how are raw numbers indicative of anything?
No, Florida’s red flag law isn’t an example, nor is the fact that a single appeals court supporting a law an example either. Remember all those landmark Supreme Court decisions? A lot of them disagreed with those appeals courts.