Maine Case Shows Another Issue With Red Flag Laws

AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast

The idea behind red flag laws is that you take guns away from those who may intend harm to others. Following Parkland, with all the red flags that surrounded the shooter, these laws gained in popularity. We were told they would prevent not just shootings, but also suicide. They’re supposed to be the bee’s knees in preventing so many tragedies.

That’s what we’ve been told, anyway. Never you mind about things like due process concerns or anything. Nope, none of that matters. What matters is that red flag laws are a surefire way to prevent bad people from hurting others.

Except when they don’t.

They didn’t do anything to prevent the King Sooper shooting in Colorado Springs, for example. They also failed to prevent a shooting in Maine, despite the fact that officials were actually contacted about the person in question.

Three weeks before 57-year-old Shaun Simmons allegedly opened fire inside his mother’s home, seriously injuring another man then killing himself, a family member called police to raise concerns that he could pose a danger.

Simmons’ brother-in-law, Brian Dunnigan, called the Wells Police Department on Feb. 21 to ask how he could formally urge authorities to seize Simmons’ gun, according to a transcript of the call released by WPD.

Without naming the person he was talking about, Dunnigan told police that a member of his family had, while intoxicated, repeatedly expressed a desire to end his own life, so Dunnigan wanted advice on the state’s “red flag” process to have the family member’s gun taken away, according to the transcript.

“Do we need to get a doctor and a judge and an attorney involved? We’re just looking for the right process, that’s all,” Dunnigan said.

“We want to try and do this without having three police cars and an ambulance at my 84-year-old mother’s house,” he added.

Call not interpreted as a request for action

In response to questions about Dunnigan’s call, WPD Capt. Kevin J. Chabot said Wednesday the concerning inquiry didn’t prompt police to take any action.

With red flag laws, there are a ton of potential problems. Just one of which is that people are involved in the system which means it’s inherently flawed.

Yet if police are capable of making this kind of mistake, can’t they also make the mistake of taking guns from people who don’t actually represent any kind of threat?

Red flag laws deprive citizens of their Second Amendment rights despite having committed no crime. It’s an attempt at pre-crime like in the movie Minority Report. However, just like in the movie, it’s impossible to always get it right. In many cases, good people who aren’t going to hurt anyone, including themselves, have their guns taken away because of an off-hand comment or because they had a bad day.

That isn’t right.

And this should make it clear that officials can’t get it right all the time.

When you’re talking about people’s rights, you need as many protections in place as humanly possible to minimize the mistakes. Red flag laws don’t have any of that.