To call red flag laws controversial would be a bit of an understatement, and they should be. After all, not only is due process ignored, but people are stripped of their gun rights in an unconstitutional double-whammy.
And yet, these laws continue to pass. That’s because it sounds like a great idea. I mean, take guns away from dangerous people? That’s easy to sell to people, especially when they don’t want to look any deeper at the reality.
And how well do these laws work? Well, it’s difficult to tell. You see, while proponents can always drop a few cases that certainly sound well-founded, they also drop the total number of times these laws are used as if every case is exactly as justified as the anecdotes they’ve already provided.
A great example of this came from a Colorado news report.
Bryce Shelby, 28, self-identified with the Black Panther Party, expressed the desire to join a nationalist paramilitary organization, and posted violent and threatening posts to social media, according to a petition for an extreme risk protection order.
The Denver Police Department (DPD) filed the petition for the protection order with the Denver Probate Court on Nov. 3. The court approved an order on Nov. 12 that required Shelby to surrender his firearms or they would be seized, according to records.
Shelby’s was one of 111 cases filed in 2020 under the state’s extreme risk protection order law. The law allows a family member, household member, a roommate, legal guardian or even a member of law enforcement to petition a judge to have someone’s guns seized if they are deemed a threat to themselves or others.
Out of the 111 cases, a judge approved a temporary restraining order, requiring a person to hand over their guns, 66 times. That’s about three-in-five cases.
What the report fails to mention, probably because there’s absolutely no record of it, is just how many of those three-in-five cases were someone who represented a legitimate threat versus how many made someone a little uncomfortable.
And that’s the real problem.
See, every order issued is a justification for keeping these laws on the books, even if the order doesn’t accomplish anything. And let’s look at the percentage of orders sought versus orders issued. Three-in-five is just 60 percent.
Considering the slim evidentiary requirements for getting one of these orders, the idea that only 60 percent of the orders asked for are issued suggests that people are doing exactly what we said they would do. They’re seeking out red flag orders for people who they simply don’t like or who make them uncomfortable.
And you’re deluded if you think the courts are screening all of those people out.
Meanwhile, that handful of legitimate threats? They’re still walking the streets. They’re still out there where they can potentially get their hands on weapons via the black market or seek out alternative means to carry out any violence they wish to.
And a lot of people who would never hurt a fly but might have talked tough on the internet – not that that would ever happen – have had their guns taken away for no real reason.