Supporters of red flag laws love to use the number of times such orders are issued as evidence that they work. “Of course red flag laws work. X County issued over 500 of them last year.”
Of course, they never question the validity of any of the orders and just take it as an article of faith that such orders would never be misused.
It’s up to people who are skeptical of such laws to keep and eye on the government and make sure they’re not misusing such measures for any reason. That’s difficult when officials won’t release records they’re required to under state law. That’s precisely what the Firearms Policy Coalition is up against in Sacramento.
The Firearms Policy Coalition (FPC) filed suit against Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department over alleged violations of the California Public Records Act and the state constitution, according to a statement from the Second Amendment organization. The FPC wrote that it attempted to obtain records about the state’s red flag program, which enables authorities to seize firearms from those deemed a threat to themselves or others, but were denied by the department.
“People have a right to know how the government is enforcing its laws and policies, especially in cases that involve the seizure of firearms and the suspension of fundamental, constitutionally enumerated rights,” FPC Director of Legal Strategy Adam Kraut said in the statement.
“The defendants’ denial of our requests is particularly concerning in light of it being a significant matter of great public interest, and we look forward to finding out what they’re hiding from us and all Californians.”
The gun group sought information about any and all warrants issued by the sheriff’s department for firearm confiscations, all records pertaining to the state’s red flag program dubbed “gun violence restraining orders,” and information about Andrew Casarez, who the organization said had his weapons seized by state authorities.
None of this should constitute privileged information, so why would the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department refuse to release it?
Well, I’m sure there are plenty of potential reasons, but the most glaring and troubling is that they have something to hide. When it comes to people’s civil liberties, that’s a big issue. It’s not difficult to imagine red flag orders being issued for people who aren’t really a threat, but maybe a pain in the rear for whatever reason. Issue an order, take their guns, and force them to shut the hell up if they don’t want to lose their gun rights forever.
Sure, that won’t work on everyone, but it’ll work on some, and maybe that’s what’s going on.
Or, maybe it’s something completely different. Who knows?
The truth is that government, any government, can range anywhere from being a dangerous servant to a terrifying master. It’s up to the people to keep it more toward the latter end of the spectrum, but to do that, they need access to information. That’s precisely what the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department is trying to hide.
It’ll be interesting to see what they learn when all this is over.