Part of the problem with red flag laws is that they don’t follow due process of law. The person in question doesn’t get to face his accuser and the entire thing is decided without his participation at all. The judge that determines they’re a risk has often never even laid eyes on the individual, yet they make a determination just the same.
Another problem is that there are a lot of people who say a lot of distasteful things that, while they’re disgusting, aren’t actually illegal to say. That’s because we have free speech to go along with our Second Amendment rights.
However, the state of New Jersey is celebrating taking the guns from a man who apparently just says really awful things a lot.
Police had been watching David Greco for months, carefully monitoring his online activity.
They noted that he often “threatened, advocated and celebrated the killing of Jewish people.”
He also was in communication with the man accused of walking into a Pittsburgh synagogue last year and killing 11 people, they alleged. (Greco has denied this.)
On Aug. 5, after months of observation, law enforcement officers paid a visit to Greco’s Camden County home.
At first, Greco, 51, refused to answer the door. He only spoke with officers after his parents came home and allowed them in the modest home.
As police questioned him about comments he made on a far-right social media platform, Greco was “extremely agitated and angry,” authorities said, but he did not talk about acting out on his disdain for Jewish people. However, they also noted that he said he “believes that Jews are raping our woman and children” and that “force or violence is necessary to realign society.”
Now, I’m not about to defend Greco’s comments. Frankly, I’m disgusted by them. There’s literally nothing in these quotes that makes me want to associate with the man on any level.
However, saying that you think force or violence in necessary doesn’t rise to the level of a crime. There are a lot of things I think force may be necessary for. That doesn’t mean I’m going to start using force myself in order to do them.
In other words, saying you think force is needed to affect a particular change you’re advocating for does not actually constitute a threat.
None the less, the police still swooped in.
On Sept. 6, police once again visited Greco’s home, descending without warning, to seize his gun and ammunition.
Unknown to Greco, a Camden County Superior Court Judge Edward McBride had issued a temporary extreme risk protection order earlier that day based on an affidavit regarding Greco’s behavior. The order allowed police to execute a no-knock search warrant of his home and seize one semi-automatic rifle, ammunition and his firearms purchaser ID card.
The problem here is that Greco’s gun was taken not because he’d done anything wrong, but because he’d said the wrong thing. Now, he’s held up as an example because what he said is almost universally considered vile and repugnant. It’s hard to defend someone like this.
And, frankly, I’m not.
What I will do, however, is defend his Second Amendment rights regardless of how disgusting a person I find him to be. If I don’t defend his rights, even though I disagree with him so fundamentally, then I have no business talking about defending gun rights at all.
While there’s little debate that his words are objectionable, I have to wonder just how long will it be until other “objectionable” rhetoric warrants a visit from the police. Are you someone who uses the phrase “from my cold, dead hands,” for example? That might be enough too. Share some memes about the boogaloo? That might do it too.
Greco didn’t say he was going to act on his beliefs. There’s no evidence he was planning anything, either. If there had been, Greco would have been arrested and I’d be celebrating with the rest of the world.
But there wasn’t.
Instead, they’ve stripped a man of his Second Amendment rights because he thinks the wrong things. That opens up a can of worms that absolutely no one should want to let loose. Once we start policing thought, there’s no good outcome in the long run.