The idea of red flag laws may sound pretty good. After all, taking guns out of the hands of those who represent a danger to themselves or others sure sounds like a winning strategy. Yet there are problems with this idea. Tons of them.
However, for proponents of these laws, those problems rarely ever come up. They never really address them. Instead, they just pretend they’re non-factors.
Now, a North Carolina newspaper has joined the chorus calling for these measures.
They’re called “red flag” bills – proposals to confiscate the guns of mentally unstable people – but in North Carolina they end up more like white flag bills.
Lawmakers propose the change, then have to surrender to Republican opposition. Gun rights advocates worry that this sensible – indeed urgent – call to take guns from people who have been deemed a threat to themselves or others would take away firearms without sufficient due process and would encourage further restrictions on the right to bear arms.
Nonetheless, Democrats have decided to persist in calling for North Carolina to adopt a red flag law, just as 19 states and Washington, D.C., have done. Three Democrats, Reps. Marcia Morey of Durham, John Autry, of Charlotte, and Grier Martin, of Wake County, filed House Bill 525 on April 8, the same day President Joe Biden called for new limits on firearms.
The wisdom of this process is obvious. The U.S. is awash in guns and shootings ranging from domestic violence to mass shootings represent what Biden called an “epidemic” and “a national embarrassment.”
Recent mass shootings in Atlanta, Boulder, Col., and Rock Hill, S.C., called fresh attention to gun violence. But red flag laws have their greatest effect on more commonplace types of gun violence, domestic violence and suicide, which accounts for the majority of U.S. gun deaths.
Except, North Carolina already has laws in place that will accomplish the same things and arguably do more to address things like suicide.
People who are thought to be a threat to themselves or others can be involuntarily committed for up to 72 hours. During this time, not only are they segregated from guns, but also from any other tool they could use to take their own life or the life of another. Not only can they not shoot themselves, but they also can’t slit their wrists, hang themselves, or anything else.
As for domestic violence, I’m a bit perplexed.
After all, if someone can go to court to get a red flag order, why can’t they get a restraining order? Hell, they should get their own firearms and make sure that if someone is getting shot, it’s the piece of crap who thinks beating up their partner is a winning strategy to life.
In so many ways, red flag laws aren’t needed.
Especially since we’ve seen how spectacularly they failed in Boulder. Remember, red flag laws have been pushed as an answer to mass shootings, too, and yet it completely failed to stop it. It’s not the only case of a red flag law failing to stop a mass shooting, either.
Red flag laws are nothing more than a salve. They’re something lawmakers do to pretend they’re doing something when they don’t know what else to do.
Meanwhile, these laws impact real people. They strip Second Amendment rights away from people who have done nothing wrong. Worse, they do it without respecting the due process of law. That’s something that gets left out of the editorial’s praise for these laws, but not something I can ignore.
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